If you’re waiting to hear back on your H-1B visa application, your wait time may have just been extended. Earlier this week, offshore IT company Infosys settled a lawsuit which claimed that the IT provider had been misusing visas in order to flout immigration laws, potentially making it harder for IT employees to come to the U.S. for work.
Here are a few things you should know about the Infosys H-1 visa fraud case:
- Former Infosys employee Jack "Jay" Palmer brought a suit against Infosys stating that Indian employees traveling under B-1 visas were performing software development, quality assurance, and testing for U.S. clients. B-1 visas allow foreign workers to attend meeting and training courses in the U.S., but do not allow employees to perform work—the case sparked a federal investigation.
- According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas, Indian IT service provider Infosys had abused many of the B-1 visas the company had been granted because the B-1 visas were much easier to obtain that the H-1B visas the company required.
- Infosys ultimately reached a settlement with the U.S. in which the company agreed to pay $34 million for its alleged temporary worker visa fraud.
What does this mean for the future of offshore IT companies? The first thing executives will likely worry about is the price of bending the rules. If they are found guilty of similar fraud, they may not have the profits to pay the fine—putting them out of business.
"$35 million is a big number for Infosys and will frighten the life out of their Indian competitors, which are also exploiting the gray areas around the visa rulings," says CEO Phil Fersht of outsourcing analyst firm HFS Research. "This fine will put a nail in the coffin of any outsourcer still trying to flout the rules."
News of the settlement could force higher USCIS scrutiny on all work visas—not only H-1B applications. B-1 visas and L-1 temporary skilled worker visas may require more proof of intent and back up already-long processing times.