US B1 Visa is intended as a temporary business visitor’s visa for a short term basis and not meant for employment purposes. Foreign nationals who are entering the US on a temporary, limited basis to engage in legitimate business activities provided they should not receiving remuneration from a U.S. source except for reimbursement for expenses. The Department of State (DOS) regulations define “business” as “conventions, conferences, consultations, and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature” but not local employment or labor for hire.
On Wednesday, October 30, 2013, the Dallas News reported that “Prosecutors unveiled the settlement Wednesday as well as the government’s accusations that Infosys “knowingly and unlawfully” brought Indian workers into the United States on business visitor visas since 2008, which avoided the higher costs and delays of a longer-term employment visa the workers should have had. They charged that Infosys systematically submitted misleading information to U.S. immigration authorities and consular officials to obtain the faster visas, unfairly gaining a competitive edge and undercutting American workers qualified for the jobs.”
This result was the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Jack B. Palmer, an American consultant to Infosys, when he brought a whistle-blower lawsuit in Alabama in February 2011, declaring that he witnessed widespread visa fraud.
Bloomberg reported Monday evening that the decision from the settlement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas could be announced as early as Wednesday. According to the report, “Infosys said it was co-operating with the probe. Infosys also disclosed that it had set aside $35 million to pay for a potential settlement and was ‘engaged in discussions’ to resolve the matter.”
Perspectives on this case:
Based on the case observations, it demonstrates that this particular case was a result of greed, where people involved used the tactical technique in not following the laws. The main motivation was to abuse the law and deprived US citizens who could have done the functions they hired for cheaper labor, and assigned these individuals with various organizations using B1 visas.
There are several angles that require understanding in regards to the roles played in executing these wrong activities:
1. Human Resources Department, Manager, Specialist, Representative or Coordinator – whoever was involved?
2. The Outsourcing Management – who made decisions?
3. The Services Recipient Management – who were involved in the acceptance of temporary workers within such organization?
4. The Immigration Legal Team – who worked with the desire of the organization in pursuing dozens of B1 visa applications?
An organization with experienced strategic international human capital management, all strategic options must have been identified, identifying all loop holes, deficiencies, advantages and results within and outside the law. All involved must have agreed to follow the laws in order to be compliant. In this scenario, there is an expected strong role of the Human Resources when it comes to the determination of applicable employment or business visa and should have recommended these, provided that such HR professional has the essential competency in strategic case management of international immigration and relocation of people.
Evidently, the business practice taken were non-compliant-based. One reason why Infosys agreed to be fined of $34 Million USD. Oh well, huge organizations afford to pay such penalty as they can call this as a cost of doing business.
In other prior abuse cases under H1B visa and other non-immigrant visas – the people involved like legal/immigration were also punished with suspension or even to the extent of debarment from their professional practice. The Department of Justice maintains the list of currently disciplined practitioners. Hopefully, in the near future, the names of those involved in the Infosys case will be published.