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Infosys Fined $35M For Illegally Bringing Programmers Into US On Visitor Visas 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-ain't-cheatin'-you-ain't-tryin' dept.
McGruber writes "The U.S. government fined Infosys $35 million after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits — instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas — to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays. The alleged practice enabled Infosys to undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for clients, according to people close to the investigation. Infosys clients have included Goldman Sachs Group, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Infosys said in an email that it is talking with the U.S. Attorney's office, 'regarding a civil resolution of the government's investigation into the company's compliance' with employment-record 'I-9 form' requirements and past use of the B-1 visa. A company spokesman, who confirmed a resolution will be announced Wednesday, said Infosys had set aside $35 million to settle the case and cover legal costs. He said the sum was 'a good indication' of the amount involved."
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Infosys Fined $35M For Illegally Bringing Programmers Into US On Visitor Visas

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  • Big deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @06:39PM (#45274177)

    I'm sure Infosys made more than $35mln by bringing those programmers in the way they did. Aside from not having to pay for the H1B visas, they could pay the programmers much less this way. Of course nothing will change. They'll start doing the same thing again. These settlements show when you have enough money, anything is legal.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @06:41PM (#45274203)

    35M is enough that someone internal is going to pay the price -- and by price, I mean leave his executive position and go to work for another tech company in high management for a similar paycheck where he'll repeat the process.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by casings (257363) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @06:44PM (#45274231)

    Whats worse is they even probably had a strategic team analyze how much they would get fined if they were caught, and decided it was worth the risk.

    As long the US government gets their cut, the people who get screwed are the people who play by the rules. Fuck everything about big business and their collusion with the government.

  • Re:Missing Step 2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @07:05PM (#45274419)

    "35m isn't a drop in the bucket."

    Yes it is.

    Revenue US$ 7.39 billion (2013)
    Operating income US$ 1.90 billion (2013)
    Profit US$ 1.72 billion (2013)

  • Re:H1B Scam (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @07:10PM (#45274463)

    And it would completely leave anyone who is not a student in the cold. I'm in the US on an H1B, working at a small tech startup. Since I joined the company, we have already doubled in size, hiring plenty more Americans. Are H1Bs sometimes abused? Yes, sure, it happens. On the other hand, I and other people like me are actively helping the US economy by creating new jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @08:07PM (#45274903)

    One word: Quota

    There's a finite number of H1B's that are available every year, with a lottery-type system to see who gets them.

  • H1B != B-1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by slew (2918) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @08:21PM (#45275009)

    I think people are confusing H1B (which have their own problems), with the B-1 visas that Infosys was caught abusing...

    H1B are for employing people that live HERE to work HERE and are paid at a level to live HERE. B-1 visa are for people that live THERE, but are temporarily working HERE, but are paid to live THERE (which is generally much lower). For example, a person employed with the same company but lives say in India, that needs to come to the US to attend a meeting, or conference, or perhaps for a couple months for training or maybe even negotiate a contract in person would need a B-1 to get into the country (you technically can't do any of these things on a tourist visa).

    The duration of an H1B is 3 years (extendable to 6 years), the duration of a B-1 is typically 6 months (extendable to 1 year). Think of the B-1 as a visitor visa to do technical visiting (there is a separate P-visa for an athlete or artist to make a performance in the US for money which is another type of visa).

    The abuse that Infosys was doing is that they were submitting manufactured documentation for the B-1 that they were coming to the US to attend training, meetings or conference, but employing B-1 visa folks to work on long term projects. That is a big NO-NO because then you can paying foreign wages (instead of H1B equivalent wages) to people work on projects even though they are here, undercutting everyone (including H1Bs).

    Infosys could have gotten the "death-sentence" (which some companies have gotten) which is no B-1 visas for a year, but they are of course big enough to avoid that and only need to pay $35M. This slap on the wrist is what to get upset about, not tangle this up with the separate H1B discussion. At least H1Bs are supposed to get paid a prevailing wage and their numbers are supposed to be limited, so at least on paper, it's reasonable. There are none of the similar statutory limitations on a B-1, so when you are abusing it, you are really going to town.

  • Re:H1B Scam (Score:3, Informative)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @08:35PM (#45275117)

    They weren't really looking for someone to fill the position for 6 months. They determined they wanted to hire someone on the cheap, and so they came up with some impossible criteria for the job. When no one was able to meet those impossible criteria, they hired you.

    And yes, a big chunk of why we've grown is because the work I do has shown our investors we're on the right track and have in return received a bunch of funding that has allowed us to create new jobs.

    Since you're not American, you might not be familiar with this reference, but there's a group of statistics in baseball with names like VORP -- value over replacement player. For example, if someone hits ten home runs in a year, they don't get any real credit for that, because any randomly chosen minor leaguer could have done the same. By your own admission, they could have gotten an American to do your job. So the work you've done hasn't really created new jobs. Those jobs could have just as easily been created by your replacement.

    Please don't take this as an attack on you. It's not. If it were up to me, we'd let in any intelligent, hard-working technical worker and fast track them for a green card. But your company broke the law by hiring you when an American could have done the job. They did so to save money, and it came at the cost of driving down the standard of living for everyone.

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