Infosys Recasts Immigration Team as Showdown with Feds Looms

Don Tennant

As federal government authorities conducting the visa and tax fraud investigation of Infosys move inexorably closer to a showdown, the Indian IT services provider appears to be quietly cleaning its U.S. immigration house to present as unsoiled a picture to the feds as it possibly can.

 

A LinkedIn search has revealed that Infosys has revamped its Plano, Texas-based human resources operation, bringing in at least four new senior immigration managers since July. All four of those new managers had previously worked for law firms that specialize in assisting foreign workers to obtain visas.

 

Here's a snapshot of the new immigration managers, based on their LinkedIn profiles:

 

  • Liz Jordan-Senior Associate Lead, Immigration. Jordan joined Infosys in August after 10 years as an immigration paralegal at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy. You may recall that Fragomen is the law firm that the Department of Labor audited in 2008, due to concerns that the firm may have advised its U.S. client companies to contact a Fragomen attorney before hiring "apparently qualified" U.S. workers. The Labor Department backed off after determining that its previous rulings on the "minimally qualified" U.S. worker issue were confusing.
  • Nirala Maharaj-Associate Lead, Global Immigration (U.S.). Before joining Infosys sometime during or after August, Maharaj spent five years as a paralegal at Weiss, Alden and Polo, P.A., assisting attorneys with the preparation and filing of immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications.
  • Erin Green-Global Immigration Compliance Lead (U.S). Green joined Infosys in October, and is responsible for "managing U.S. immigration compliance." Green had previously spent three years as head of the U.S. immigration department at Kantor & Acco Global Immigration Law Firm.
  • Laurie Hawkins-Practice Lead, Immigration. Hawkins joined Infosys in July after a 10-month stint as director of HR and immigration services at the Dallas office of Velie Law Firm PLLC. She had previously served as an immigration paralegal at the Dallas law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist, Nokia, and Verizon Communications, and as a senior immigration advisor at NuCompass Mobility Services.

 

The fact that all four of these Plano-based senior immigration managers have joined Infosys since July is especially interesting in light of some of the comments that then-CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan made during the company's earnings call on July 12. As I reported in my July 19 post, "Deception-Detection Expert: Infosys Execs Fretting over Visa Woes," Gopalakrishnan had played down questions about problems stemming from the U.S. government's crackdown on the H-1B visa approval process, and insisted that the outlook for obtaining the H-1B visas Infosys needed was rosy.

 


Phil Houston, an internationally recognized expert in the field of deception detection and CEO of QVerity, a company in which I'm a partner, analyzed the transcript of that earnings call and drew this conclusion:

Based on the behavioral analysis of responses by Infosys management to questions related to the ongoing visa issue, it appears that the company has been affected by changes in the visa process, and that those changes are the source of significant concern for Infosys management.

It's worth reading Houston's full analysis in that post, because it outlines in detail the deceptive behavior exhibited by Gopalakrishnan, and how that behavior suggests that Gopalakrishnan was particularly troubled by the visa situation. If that were the case, it seems unsurprising that an essential element of his concern would be the prospective ramifications of the feds' criminal investigation of Infosys' visa practices.

 

It's probably safe to assume, moreover, that the shake-up of Infosys' Plano-based immigration operation is more extensive than what I was able to uncover on the basis of a LinkedIn search. What's unclear at this point is the extent to which this new cast of characters replaces, rather than augments, the immigration team members whose hands may have gotten sullied by the alleged visa and tax fraud. In any case, we may be seeing a pattern here.

 

It was also in July that Infosys had come up with a new internal document, "Business Visitor Travels to the U.S.: An Employee Guide to Company Policy and Procedures" (see my posts, "Infosys Tries to Show It's Cleaning up B1 Visa Act" and "Infosys CEO Fields Tough Questions About Visa Fraud Case"). Although internal correspondence had made it clear that these were new guidelines, Gopalakrishnan struggled to portray them as a routine revision of something that already existed.

 

All of this begs an enormously crucial question that Infosys needs to figure out how to answer: If there is no merit to the visa and tax fraud allegations that were brought to light by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, and subsequently brought under criminal investigation by authorities from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and Department of Justice, why, exactly, is Infosys working so feverishly to change the way it was conducting its visa operations?



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 12, 2011 1:34 AM Chamat Chamat  says:

Phil Houston has rightly summarized everything --- "it appears that the company has been affected by changes in the visa process, and that those changes are the source of significant concern for Infosys management."

Any company which is getting around 60% of its revenue from a country where VISA process has changed will be affected. Hence they might be doing all this revamp.

Again I would say either the writer himself is confused or trying to confuse others by relating so many things at the same time.

Roy's reference with some local company in FL, which he himself doesn't know what wrong doing they were doing is quite immature.

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Dec 12, 2011 2:01 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Chamat

"Roy's reference with some local company in FL, which he himself doesn't know what wrong doing they were doing is quite immature."

I know exactly what they were doing, however it isn't important.  What is important is how law enforcement acted in that situation and contrasting that to how they are acting in this issue.

In one case they act, win in court as a direct result of evidence gathered, protect consumers,  and force change throughout the industry.  In this case, they are acting slowly and not in a manner that takes corporate crime seriously. 

As far as maturity level, that's just another personal attack by a someone who has been an apologists for corporate criminals from day one.  A mature person would want their government to take corporate crime seriously and to implement measures that prevents it from occurring in the first place. 

Punishment exists for one key reason - that people fear committing a crime.  When it comes to most corporate crime, the fear just isn't there.  Obviously morality and "doing the right thing" doesn't come naturally to some people, so they need some extra motivation.  Given your lackadaisical attitude towards corporate crime Chamat, I wouldn't be surprised if one day you are provided some extra "motivation".

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Dec 12, 2011 2:05 AM john80224 john80224  says: in response to Chamat

Is it really such a stretch to draw the conclusions the author does?  Do you really find the situation so innocuous that the timing can be nothing more than coincidental?  Is it not conversely plausible that any company that has based so much of its revenue on one nation's long-challenged visa system should have already had the expertise and not needed to be retooling just as the accusations come forward?  And for future reference, how many pieces of information constitute a correct amount?  One person's accusation sounds like it is insufficient or suspect, yet many pieces are indicative of confusion.  And as you seem to be an expert on his knowledge what doesn't Mr. Lawson know about the local insurance company and what is he thinking at this moment?

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Dec 12, 2011 2:34 AM Su Su  says: in response to R. Lawson

"Is it really that unreasonable for me to expect swifter justice from my government?" ~

Roy, Similar reply I gave to sealteam6 in another post. It is not about only the right intentions you have and what actions authorities will take for suspect and the punishment or action you want for every guilt proved.  

The whole sentiment is about some personal priorities and how US government will act to it. Citizens of country wants governments to act first always on their personal priorities but that doesn't influence Government everytime.

Overall for elongated period you are very sure of fraud but others may not. You are also ready with your verdict and list of punsihment also which again may not be true for others (do not consider this others as only Indian h1 holders or Infosys employees - there is a tendency of typecasting here). Take this Infosys case - they are probably and will be found guilty but may not be what you think of. Their punsihment may not be what you want. This can very well be found as a case of loophole in company's system.

And then all proactive measures (what Don mentioned above) of Infosys taking might as well be projected as a positive sign where they will agree to effort of improvement of their system and tighten any lose end in their practice. Overall expectation of entire Infosys shutting down and all their management arrested will be very immature.

"A local insurance company here in Florida was involved in some wrong-doing." ~ Any idea what top 10 insurance companies doing? Probably they all are doing business with Infosys.

I'm not arguing on wrong or right on what you want. You are probably very right in asking what you are asking. I'm just giving sad picture of reality also.

It sounds like when you hate someone you 'wish' him to get arrested for even traffic violation or for taking a free right on a "no right at red" warning but then cops might let it go sometimes (and you say why God why?;) )

It will be very hard to prove this case as a huge organized crime and the way some people want the outcome to be here.

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Dec 12, 2011 3:32 AM Chamat Chamat  says: in response to R. Lawson

I am not at all in favor of corporate criminals. But at the same time I don't like the idea of imposing one's opinion (developed through personal conservation with just one party) over an entire community. If proven anyone who is involved in any type of crime should be punished.

For everything we have laws and processes in place, what we are doing here is just bypassing all these processes and giving our own verdict!

I found your reference as immature because you did not mention the crime and just mentioned how law enforcement acted. If an insurance company is doing identity theft will face different consequences and an outsourcing company who did 100,000+ of visas globally is accused of doing  visa abuse in couple of scenarios will have different consequence.

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Dec 12, 2011 3:37 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Su

@Su - I don't believe law enforcement should be vindictive or out on a witch-hunt.  In this case we have several witnesses claiming wrongful actions.  I would expect a vigorous, fair, and timely investigation - and charges if warranted.

I don't know if the investigation has been fair because I'm not privy to that.  I do however have a calendar and based on the timeline I don't think this has been done expediently.

No matter what your opinion is on Infosys, everyone should appreciate it when justice is done in a timely manner.  Dragging this on leaves doubt in the minds of Infosys investors and harms their value.  Dragging this on leaves American citizens eager to know our laws are enforced wondering if this company is getting away with something.

Everyone should want justice to be carried out in a reasonable amount of time - except perhaps those trying to play the system and run down the clock.

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Dec 12, 2011 5:59 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Chamat

"I found your reference as immature because you did not mention the crime and just mentioned how law enforcement acted. If an insurance company is doing identity theft will face different consequences and an outsourcing company who did 100,000+ of visas globally is accused of doing  visa abuse in couple of scenarios will have different consequence."

As to the crime of the insurance company, it doesn't matter.  It was a CORPORATE CRIME.  They were brought to justice.  My point is based on the reaction by law enforcement to crime, not the crime itself.  I simply want the same with Infosys - bring them to justice.  They should expect a fair trial - and given their hiring spree of lawyers I'm sure they are prepared to mount their best defense. 

We aren't talking "visa abuse".  We are talking fraud, and conspiracy to hide the fraud.  This isn't a case of "oops, we gave the wrong information on a visa application by accident".  This is a case of "everyone join in on deceiving the United States Goverment" . . . "Jay, you aren't joining in.  You just aren't a team player!".  So not only was there a conspiracy to hide fraud, there was a violation of whistle blower laws and punishing those who wanted no part of the crime.

Sorry Chamat, you aren't getting off that easy trying to say this is (essentially) like prosecuting a speeding violation.  If they have the same attitude towards the law that you do - and believe this is one of those things they can get away with like a traffic citation - it is no wonder we have double digit fraud and error rates among H-1b visa petitions.

As to the insurance company and circumstances since you are curious, they were a client.  I was brought in to develop an application to audit parts of their sales and resolution management process as a result of the crime and new policies that needed to be put in place.  Because they are a former client, I'm not going to reveal the company name or details.  But my point still stands. 

If Infosys hired me to fix their problem I would show them the same professional courtesy.  And I think they should hire me to do just that - it would show that they are serious about solving the problem because I would fix it to the whatever extent that a software system is able to fix it.  And I am genuinely motivated to see it fixed.

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Dec 12, 2011 8:56 AM Jake_Leone Jake_Leone  says:

Reminds of the scene in the movie "The RainMaker", where they meet with "Great Benifit" executives (I thinks it was a discovery meeting), and many of the personnel that crafted "Great Benefits" policies (or handled claims) were "no longer with the company".

Similarly, I wonder how many InfoSys personnel were given hefty severance, and told to "Just get lost."

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Dec 12, 2011 11:39 AM IAmNumber813 IAmNumber813  says:

The 4 people mentioned in the article appear to be junior-level people: 1 lawyer and 3 paralegals who will probably not affect or change any Infosys' visa policies.

Infosys' spanking brand new lawyer, Erin Green, graduated law school 14 years ago and, according to his LinkedIn profile, has never made partner anywhere. Unfortunately for Infosys, after three months of employment at Infosys, Erin Green still advertises on LinkedIn that he works for his last employer:

"I currently practice US corporate immigration as a Senior Associate for Egan LLP (Ernst & Young) in Toronto, Canada. My current position involves overseeing the preparation of permanent residence and temporary employment petitions and applications for billion dollar global companies. ..."

I wonder how Erin Green's Infosys management team feels about his LinkedIn advertising. I also wonder why Erin Green hasn't changed his LinkedIn profile after three months.

Ironically, I think the feds' delays actually helps American IT professionals somewhat since Infosys will remain cautious during the feds' investigations. I also wouldn't be surprised to discover that the feds have undercover agents and informants inside Infosys gathering evidence (i.e., like some of the "new" people mentioned in this article).

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Dec 12, 2011 11:51 AM weaver weaver  says: in response to R. Lawson

@R.Lawson

I find it interesting that the new hires that Don Tennant has turned up are all paralegals.

Article Snip

In most states, attorneys who have been suspended and even disbarred for unethical conduct are permitted to work as paralegals. In effect, they've been kicked off the team, but they're not out of the game.

Because there is no bright line separating much of the work performed by paralegals from that performed by attorneys, some disbarred and suspended attorneys come dangerously close to crossing the line into unauthorized practice of law.

http://www.paralegals.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=342

end snip

This brings me to wonder if a paralegal can be disbarred, and why Infosys would hire paralegals instead of attorneys.

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Dec 12, 2011 11:56 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

"If there is no merit to the visa and tax fraud allegations . . . why, exactly, is Infosys working so feverishly to change the way it was conducting its visa operations?"

I think we all know the answer to that rhetorical question.

I have another question.  Why is it taking authorities so long to investigate Infosys?  My guess is that the shredders have been working overtime and people have had ample time to rehearse what they will say.

These people are suspected corporate criminals.  How hard is it to get a warrant and show up with a team to collect evidence?  How many whistle-blowers does it take?  There are at least a few - isn't that enough people to get a warrant, start smashing doors, duplicate hard-drives, and xerox everything?

A local insurance company here in Florida was involved in some wrong-doing.  The feds showed up, armed, and told everyone not to move.  "Stay in your cubicle and keep your hands off the mouse".  That's the type of response I expect at Infosys. 

Corporations seem almost immune from criminal prosecution.  When you add up the totality of their crimes, they dwarf the crimes of common criminals in terms of cost and victims.  Yet most law enforcement spends a fraction of their resources on white-collar criminals and devotes it to petty theft.

Also, how many of the (alleged) criminals are no longer in the US?  This is a foreign corporation and the delay gives the company plenty of time to send possible witnesses back to India where they will never be heard from again.

Is it really that unreasonable for me to expect swifter justice from my government?

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Dec 13, 2011 1:28 AM hoapres hoapres  says: in response to Don Tennant

Nothing much is going to happen here.  This stuff has been going on for years and I suspect that the whole thing is going to get swepped under the rug.  This is one of those "We know but don't want to know".  Just too much at stake for anything serious to come out of this.  Too much has been invested in Indian offshoring projects with the importation of H1B insourcing visas.  No one wants to see the truth come out on this so it is all going to get swepped under the rug. 

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Dec 13, 2011 5:12 AM Alex Alex  says: in response to IAmNumber813

>>I wonder how Erin Green's Infosys management team feels about his LinkedIn advertising.

LinkedIn isn't Infosys' background management system. Infosys doesn't cares whether you update your Linkedin profile or not.

I also wonder why Erin Green hasn't changed his LinkedIn profile after three months.

Nothing to wonder. She doesn't care enough to update it.

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Dec 13, 2011 9:59 AM SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6  says: in response to weaver

This brings me to wonder if a paralegal can be disbarred, and why Infosys would hire paralegals instead of attorneys.

They are moving to a lower cost model...

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Dec 13, 2011 10:09 AM IAmNumber813 IAmNumber813  says: in response to Alex

It's not clear what a "Infosys' background management system" is. Please elaborate if you can.

If I hired an employee and that employee continued to advertise to the public on LinkedIn or elsewhere that he worked for another employer, I would fire that employee.

I guess you and the Infosys management team have lower ethical standards as evidenced by Infosys' civil lawsuit and ongoing criminal investigations. Did Infosys even bother to check to see if their new lawyer is licensed to practice law in the state he's working?

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Dec 13, 2011 10:12 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to weaver

Immigration lawyers can be and are sometimes disbarred.

"and why Infosys would hire paralegals instead of attorneys."

I'm not sure that Infosys needs that many licensed immigration attorneys; most of the work is probably done by paralegals.  This is primarily filing of documents and they probably spend more time at the post office or copy room than in a court room.

The real question is who they have hired to represent them in the criminal case. 

As to Don reporting on the paralegals - yeah it's not the smoking gun but it is nice to see that Don is actively exploring the issue.  This is what good investigating by journalists looks like.  Not going to hit a home run every time, but who knows where this goes and what else he discovers while exploring all angles.  This is a blog - the "proving grounds" for stories.  When the Infosys story blows up into something big, Don is going to be able to write some very compelling articles because he knows more about this issue than most journalists.

I give Don credit for being creative and looking outside the box.

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Dec 13, 2011 10:32 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to R. Lawson

The issue isn't so much the background of these individuals, but rather the simple fact that Infosys is working so hard behind the scenes to clean house. I feel kind of bad for these people, because I doubt they had any idea what they were getting themselves into when they accepted these jobs. The larger question has to do with what actions Infosys is taking both here and in India to present as clean a house as possible. To me, what's far more interesting than who they've hired is who they've gotten rid of.

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Dec 13, 2011 10:50 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to IAmNumber813

"If I hired an employee and that employee continued to advertise to the public on LinkedIn or elsewhere that he worked for another employer, I would fire that employee."

Seems a bit harsh.  How about a friendly reminder to update their LinkedIn profile?

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Dec 13, 2011 12:21 PM Richard Richard  says:

I would anyday suspect foul play from infosys. See below :

infosys-shortens-employees-two-weekend-breaks-to-meet-revenue-growth-target

No womder infosys is a thug company and I feel Jay Palmer should win the case. Jay is a bravo not a coward like most others.

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Dec 14, 2011 4:47 AM Thought?? Thought??  says: in response to R. Lawson

LinkedIn is completely a private affair of an employee and no employer can ask an employee to write this or that in LinkedIn profile just bcoz the person is employed by them. Thats how it works, I think folks here are not too familiar with how things work, which is also evident in the blogger's opinion as well as many others who posted the comments here. And LinkedIn profile doesnt say anything about how good you are at doing your work, some people just don't care or get time to update profiles bcoz they have more important work to do.

But I wish you all good luck with your aspirations and wishful thinking. Merry X'mas !!!

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Dec 14, 2011 5:53 AM IAmNumber813 IAmNumber813  says: in response to R. Lawson

"Seems a bit harsh.  How about a friendly reminder to update their LinkedIn profile?"

You're right. Firing without warning may be a bit harsh. However, as SealTeam stated, people have been fired for posting and blogging much less. At a minimum, I would also consider it a reflection on one's judgment, especially for a lawyer who should pay attention to details.

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Dec 14, 2011 12:41 PM SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6 SealTeam6  says: in response to Thought??

I disagree. Consider the number of employees who have been fired for unflattering comments about their workplaces/bosses/coworkers on their (private) blogs or even discussing upcoming projects/products. Many employers have rules about what their employees say online. The specifics of what is acceptable to each employer can vary, so to say it is a "private affair" is inaccurate.

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Dec 20, 2011 11:29 AM connectthedots connectthedots  says: in response to R. Lawson

You said: "This is a foreign corporation and the delay gives the company plenty of time to send possible witnesses back to India where they will never be heard from again."

This is not just any other foreign corporation. Infosys represents everything Indian at the moment (Though things are changing in India as we speak, one Mr Anna Hazare and a band of others are pressing for ombudsman legislation which is expected to change the 'business as usual' of India forever, but that might take months or years). There is also the element of corporate to government connections (hinted at this newsblog http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/of-all-the-gin-joints-in-all-the-towns-in-the-world/ : Note that in the picture, the persons standing first and fifth from the left are Infosys executives and the person fourth (wearing the sari) is the recipient).  If you read that report and everything under http://churumuri.wordpress.com/category/murthy-angadi/ then you will know,  this is not just any other India corporation, but the mighty Infosys.

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Apr 17, 2014 3:24 AM Steven White Steven White  says:
I was very pleased to find this site and wanted to thank you for this great read!! Reply

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