Infosys Limited, an Indian company involved in consulting, technology and outsourcing, has agreed to a record $34 million civil settlement based on allegations of systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes, and also agreed to enhanced corporate compliance measures. The $34 million payment made by Infosys as a result of these allegations represents the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.

This settlement was announced by U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas. This case was investigated by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and by attorneys from ICE’s Office of Principal Legal Advisor.

Infosys is located in 30 countries and in 17 U.S. cities, including a location in Plano, Texas. The Plano location is responsible for handling the immigration practices and procedures for U.S. operations of Infosys. Infosys brings foreign nationals into the United States to perform work and fulfill contracts with its customers under two visa classification programs relevant to this matter, H-1B and B-1.

The H-1B visa is a strictly regulated visa program that protects the American worker from unfair competition from overseas countries that have drastically lower labor wages. The H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals needed for certain specialty occupations. The H1-B visa also protects foreign workers and mandates that they must be paid fair wages while working in the United States. H-1B visas are limited by congress to 65,000 visas nationally per year.

However, there is no limit to B-1 visitors. And the B-1 visa program only allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United States, for conferences, seminars, and the like. B-1 visa holders are not allowed to work in the United States. Infosys unlawfully and fraudulently used B-1 visa visitors as though they were H-1B workers in violation of U.S. immigration law.

According to court documents, the government alleged instances of Infosys circumventing the requirements, limitations, and governmental oversight of the H-1B visa program by knowingly and unlawfully using B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labor to fill positions in the United States for employment that would otherwise be performed by U.S. citizens or by legitimate H-1B visa holders. The government also alleges that Infosys violated U.S. immigration laws to increase its profits, minimize costs of securing visas, increase flexibility of employee movement, obtain an unfair advantage over competitors, and avoid tax liabilities. Following are the specific allegations:

- Infosys fraudulently used B-1 visa holders to perform jobs that involved skilled labor that were instead required to be performed by U.S. citizens or 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 to deceive the U.S. Consular Officials and secure entry of the visa holder into the United States. These letters often falsely 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 providing 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 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 U.S. 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 U.S. citizens or legitimate H-1B visa holders. Infosys billed 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.

The settlement agreement requires Infosys to pay $34 million to the United States. This agreement was largely predicated on Infosys’s cooperation with the United States during the investigation and on compliance measures taken by Infosys in the areas of B-1 and H-1B visas and I-9 documentation, both prior to and during the course of the investigation. The settlement agreement requires additional auditing for I-9 forms, a reporting requirement for B-1 usage, an agreement to continue to use only detailed invitation letters, and the continued use of corporate disciplinary processes for employees that violate the immigration laws of the United States.

"We will not tolerate actions that mislead the United States and circumvent lawful immigration processes, whether undertaken by a single individual or one of the largest corporations in the world," said U.S. Attorney Bales. "The H-1B and B-1 visa programs are designed and intended to protect the American worker; and we will vigorously enforce the requirements of those programs."

David M. Marwell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas, concurred: "This settlement against Infosys is the largest immigration fine on record. 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’s I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violations. Ultimately, these actions by Infosys cost American jobs and simultaneously financially hurt companies that sought to follow the laws of this nation. Companies that misuse the visa process can expect to be scrutinized and held accountable."

The investigation and settlement also earned the praise of George M. Nutwell III, special agent-in-charge of the Houston Field Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service said that: "The Infosys investigation illustrates the unique role that DSS plays in investigating complex visa fraud cases that reach far beyond U.S. borders. DSS collaborates with our law enforcement partners and is committed to investigating and bringing to justice those who violate the law."

This case was investigated and the settlement negotiated by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shamoil T. Shipchandler, Alan R. Jackson, and J. Kevin McClendon, and attorneys from ICE’s Office of Principal Legal Advisor.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

Q: What is an immigration detainer?

A: An immigration detainer (Form I-247 (http://www.ice.gov/doclib/secure-communities/pdf/immigration-detainer-form.pdf) ) is a notice that DHS issues to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to inform the LEA that ICE intends to assume custody of an individual in the LEA's custody.

An immigration detainer serves three key functions: 1) to notify an LEA that ICE intends to assume custody of an alien in the LEA's custody once the alien is no longer subject to the LEA's detention; 2) to request information from an LEA about an alien's impending release so ICE may assume custody before the alien is released from the LEA's custody; and 3) to request that the LEA maintain custody of an alien who would otherwise be released for a period not to exceed 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) to provide ICE time to assume custody.

Q: Why does ICE issue detainers?

A: Detainers are critical for ICE to be able to identify and ultimately remove criminal aliens who are currently in federal, state or local custody.

ICE relies on the cooperation of our state and local law enforcement partners in this effort.

Q: What if the LEA needs the individual to remain in the United States for prosecution or other law enforcement purposes?

A: Local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are advised that once individuals are in ICE custody, they may be removed from the United States. If the LEA wants an individual to remain in the United States for prosecution or other law enforcement purposes, including acting as a witness, the agency should notify the local Field Office or the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center at (802) 872-6020.

Q: Where does ICE's authority to issue a detainer stem from? 

A: By issuing a detainer, ICE requests that a law enforcement agency notify ICE before releasing an alien and maintain custody of the subject for a period not to exceed 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, to allow ICE to assume custody.

This request flows from federal regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 287.7, which arises from the Secretary's power under the Immigration and Nationality Act § 103(a)(3), 8 U.S.C. 1103(a)(3), to issue “regulations . . . necessary to carry out [her] authority” under the INA, and from ICE's general authority to detain individuals who are subject to removal or removal proceedings.

Q: What has been changed on the I-247 form?

A: The new I-247 form requests that the LEA provide to the subject of the detainer a copy of the detainer form and a notice advising him or her that ICE intends to assume custody. The notice informs these individuals that ICE has requested the LEA to maintain custody beyond the time when they would have been released by the state or local law enforcement authorities based on their criminal charges or convictions. The notice contains translations into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

The new I-247 form also emphasizes that local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) may only hold an alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays).

Q: What happens if ICE does not assume custody of the individual after 48 hours?

A: If ICE does not assume custody after 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), the local law enforcement agency (LEA) is required to release the individual. The LEA may not lawfully hold an individual beyond the 48-hour period.

Q: What if the subject of the detainer believes that he or she has been held beyond the 48 hours, or has a complaint?

A: The Notice to the Detainee advises individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody during the 48 hours, they should contact the LEA or entity that is holding them to inquire about their release from state or local custody.

If the individual has a complaint regarding the detainer or violations of civil rights or civil liberties connected to DHS activities, he or she should contact the ICE Joint Intake Center at 1-877-2INTAKE (877-246-8253).

Q: What happens if a detainer is placed on a victim of a crime or a U.S. citizen?

A: If the local law enforcement agency (LEA) believes the individual may be the victim of a crime or a U.S. citizen, the LEA should notify the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center at (802) 872-6020.

If the subject of the detainer believes that he or she is a victim of a crime or a U.S. citizen, that individual should advise DHS by calling the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center at the following toll-free number (855) 448-6903.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

We are having a persistent problem with iCERT to file for LCA. We are experiencing extremely slow response times or are having difficulty logging on. This will cause the delay in filing. It is taking about two hours to move to the next page. We are hoping that this will be resolved by next week as the ICERT just started working lots of people have logged in causing the delay.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

DOL: The PERM system was restored as of 12:30pm ET.

DOL: iCERT has been restored as of 11am ET but due to what is most likely going to be a high volume day, users may experience slowness with the system. Members also report receiving LCAs and prevailing wage determinations. The PERM system was still unavailable as of 11am ET.

CIS Ombudsman: Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman’s Case Assistance webpage has been restored.

USCIS: USCIS alert that E-Verify has resumed operations following the federal government shutdown, and all E-Verify features and services are available. Alert includes Q&As regarding how the shutdown affected E-Verify and Form I-9.

EOIR: EOIR alert that detained cases will be heard as scheduled. However non-detained cases scheduled for 10/17/13 will be rescheduled for a future date. Effective 10/18/13, all non-detained case dockets will proceed with all scheduled cases. BIA and OCAHO have also returned to normal operations.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.