Infosys to pay USD 34 million in US visa fraud case
Indian IT bellwether Infosys Wednesday agreed to pay USD 34 million (Rs.208 crore) to resolve charges of misusing B-1 visas levelled against it by the US State Justice Department.
"We have agreed to pay USD 34 million to resolve all allegations for which we have taken a reserve of USD 35 million, including attorney's fee. The settlement is focused on I-9 paperwork errors from 2010-11 that we began correcting before the investigation began," the global software major said in a statement here.
The company, however, maintained that there was no evidence that the I-9 paperwork violations allowed its employees to work beyond their visa authorisation.
"As reflected in the settlement, we deny and dispute any claim of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage, or immigration abuse. Those claims are untrue and are assertions that remain unproven," the statement noted.
Asserting that the use of B-1 visas was for legitimate business purposes and not intended to circumvent the requirements of the H-1B programme, the company said only 0.02 percent of the days that its employees worked on US projects in 2012 were performed by B-1 visa holders.
"Our policy demands adherence to all laws, rules and regulations everywhere we operate, and we take our compliance obligations seriously," the statement pointed out.
In the settlement agreement, the US government acknowledged that Infosys demonstrated a commitment to compliance with the immigration laws through its current visa and I-9 practices.
"The settlement removes uncertainty of prolonged litigation and allows us to focus on delivering measurable results for our clients," the statement added.
Clarifying that there were no criminal charges or court rulings against it, the company said there were no limitations on its eligibility for federal contracts or access to US visa programmes as a result of the settlement.
The US departments of Justice and Homeland Security carried a joint investigation after a district court in Texas served a legal notice May 23, 2011 on the company, alleging misuse of B-1 visa rules by it in past.
The US immigration authorities issues B-1 visas for short-term visits to attend business seminars and restrict employees from engaging in gainful employment during their stay.
In a regulatory filing to the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) in June 2011, the company admitted that any action by the US government against it in this regard would seriously affect its business in the North America market, which accounts for about 60 percent of its export revenue.
(Posted on 30-10-2013)