Information technology services firm Infosys Ltd. (NYSE: INFY) announced it will pay $34 million to settle an immigration probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The settlement is focused on historical I-9 paperwork errors and visa matters. The I-9 paperwork errors were from 2010 through 2011, and the company said it had begun correcting them before the investigation.
However, officials say the settlement amount is the largest of its kind.
“This settlement against Infosys is the largest immigration fine on record,” said David Marwell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas. “The investigation indicated that Infosys manipulated the visa process and circumvented the requirements, limitations and governmental oversight of the visa programs. The investigation also showed that more than 80 percent of Infosys’ I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violation.
Infosys denies any claims of visa fraud or misuse of visas. The company also said there is no evidence the I-9 paperwork violations allowed any Infosys employee to work beyond their visa authorization.
There were no criminal charges or court rulings against the company, Infosys reported. Also, there are no limitation on Infosys’ eligibility for federal contracts or access to U.S. visa programs as a result of the settlement.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, allegations in the case included:
- “Infosys used B-1 visa holders to perform jobs that involved skilled labor that were instead required to be performed by United States citizens or required legitimate H-1B visa holders.
- “Infosys submitted ‘invitation letters’ to U.S. Consular Officials that contained false statements regarding the true purpose of a B-1 visa holder’s travel in order to deceive U.S. Consular Officials and secure entry of the visa holder into the United States. These letters often stated that the purpose of travel was for ‘meetings’ or ‘discussions’ when the true purpose was to engage in activities not authorized under a B-1 visa.
- “Infosys directed B-1 visa holders to deceive U.S. Consular Officials, including specific instructions to avoid certain terminology, to secure entry of the visa holder into the United States. Infosys created a ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ memorandum that it provided to foreign nationals entering the United States on a B-1 visa that included the following directions: ‘Do not mention activities like implementation, design & testing, consulting, etc., which sound like work;’ ‘Also do not use words like, work, activity, etc., in the invitation letter;’ and ‘Please do not mention anything about contract rates.’
- “Infosys told its foreign nationals to inform U.S. Consular Officials that their destination in the United States was the same as that provided in the Labor Condition Application, notwithstanding the fact that Infosys knew that the destinations had changed.
- “Infosys wrote and revised contracts with clients in order to conceal the fact that Infosys was providing B-1 visa holders to perform jobs that involved skilled or unskilled labor that were otherwise required to be performed by United States citizens or required legitimate H-1B visa holders.
- “Infosys concealed the fact that B-1 visa holders were performing jobs that involved skilled or unskilled labor that were otherwise required to be performed by United States citizens or required legitimate H-1B visa holders by billing clients for the use of off-shore resources when, in fact, work was being performed by B-1 visa holders in the United States.
- “Infosys failed to maintain I-9 records for many of its foreign nationals in the United States in 2010 and 2011 as required by law, including a widespread failure to update and re-verify the employment authorization status of a large percentage of its foreign national employees.”
Infosys denies any claim of systemic visa fraud or misuse of visas for competitive advantage or immigration abuse.
“The company’s use of B-1 visas was for legitimate business purposes and not in any way intended to circumvent the requirements of the H-1B program,” Infosyst reported. “Only 0.02 percent of the days that Infosys employees worked on U.S. projects in 2012 were performed by B-1 visa holders.”
The company said the settlement removes the uncertainty of prolonged litigation and allows it to focus on results for its clients.
“In the settlement agreement, the U.S. government acknowledged that Infosys demonstrates a commitment to compliance with the immigration laws through its current visa and I-9 practices,” according to the company.