Infosys Tries to Show It's Cleaning up B1 Visa Act

Don Tennant

As Infosys scrambles to comply with a U.S. grand jury subpoena for information relating to its use of B1 visas, and to mount a defense in the visa fraud lawsuit filed by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, the company has prepared a detailed policy document that outlines the activities that can and cannot be performed by employees in the United States on B1 visas.

 

According to a company official, Infosys "has reviewed its current practices and established a comprehensive policy and procedures to which every employee MUST adhere." The result is a 24-page document, titled "Business Visitor Travels to the U.S.: An Employee Guide to Company Policy and Procedures." The document contains an exhaustive list of authorized activities with explanatory remarks about the impermissible actions in each activity area.

 

For the purpose of this post, let's look at what the document spells out in four of those activity areas:

 

  • Project Planning-Performing planning activities (e.g., developing plans or blueprints) for a project that will be completed outside the U.S. at a future date provided that actual work on the project is not begun by the visitor while he or she is in the U.S. Project planning for a project that will be undertaken in the U.S. is not permissible.
  • Requirements Gathering-Discussions, meetings, analysis, documentation for activities/projects primarily to be performed outside of U.S. at a future date. Actual work on the project based on the requirements being gathered should not be begun or performed by the business visitor while he or she is in the U.S. Requirements gathering as part of a consulting contract to be performed in the U.S. is not permissible.
  • Knowledge Gathering-System Appreciation for activities/projects primarily to be performed outside of U.S. at a future date. Actual work on the project based on the knowledge being gathered should not be begun or performed by the business visitor while he or she is in the U.S. Knowledge gathering as part of a consulting contract to be performed in the U.S. is not permissible.
  • High Level Designing-To arrive at functional breakdown of the system requirements leading to creation of logical view of the future system, (process flows, data objects and database flows) and defining the Operating Environment for projects primarily to be performed outside of U.S. at a future date. Detailed designing of database, software components is not appropriate by the business visitor while he or she is in the U.S.

 

One of the problems Infosys has to deal with in attempting to extricate itself from this mess is the simple fact that the company still has U.S. customers that it's billing in fixed-price contracts for this impermissible work being carried out by B1 visa holders. Beyond that, the entire document appears to me to be an acknowledgement of all of the B1 policies and procedures the company should have been following all along. So what seems to have been intended as a CYA exercise may well be more of a playbook that can be used by federal authorities in their criminal investigation of Infosys. Why is the company only now providing its employees with this guidance?



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Jul 8, 2011 1:13 AM SS SS  says: in response to Shane

Shane, you stole my words. Dan, isn't it unethical for you to have quoted the content of the policy in your blog. The content is absolutely company internal confidential, and by posting it here you are on one hand supporting the low life who leaked it to you and on the other hand trying to show you are against people and entities who violate rules. This is certainly not expected from you of all people.

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Jul 8, 2011 1:33 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to SS

My name is Don, not Dan. I respect your viewpoint, but I'm comfortable with the post. Frankly, I see no reason in the world why Infosys shouldn't post the document on its website for all to see what its B1 policies and procedures are. Why would it want to keep those policies and procedures secret?

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Jul 8, 2011 1:42 AM SS SS  says: in response to Don Tennant

Sorry for misspelling your name. As long as it is made available to the people to whom it matters (including federal investigating authorities), I don't see the need for you or anyone else outside Infosys to know about it. I don't understand why you think everyone else in this world should know about those policies.

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Jul 8, 2011 2:19 AM who knows who knows  says: in response to SS

Because Infosys is public trading company and there are certain things you can keep it secret and not everything. Don't use the word company policy or secret to hide business process which as a share holder (even if it is one and only share) entitled to know.

This information is not about how to get new business (which is company secret) it is about what is law and how to abide to it and for sure it is not company secret.

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Jul 8, 2011 2:31 AM SS SS  says: in response to who knows

And how are the share holders goign to benefit by knowing about such policies. No company is obliged to make anything and everything available to the share holders and if people start demanding such things there will be no limit to it.

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Jul 8, 2011 2:45 AM jobs4US jobs4US  says:

Infosys may be one of the largest but certainly not the only abuser of B1/B2 visa fraud.  The USA is the laughing stock of the world and fiduciaries choose to keep American citizens in the dark about the well-known, widespread crime, misuse of B1/B2 visas to displace American citizens from jobs in the USA. 

How can our elected officials grandstand the dire need for fraudulent foreign visa workers  - all they need to do is step outside their door to see so many gifted Americans tossed out on the street and discriminated against and treated like India's 'untouchables'. I say this is TREASON.

It is high time these corrupt politicians, mainstream media, and greedy billionaires face the same legal consequences as any other criminal.

Thank you Jay Palmer, you are American Tech's hero.

See for yourself EXACTLY how well known this problem is in India.

Wikileaks 2009 H1b Visa Fraud Cable from from the US Embassy in India

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http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/10/09CHENNAI306.html

"B1/B2 visa fraud is the most  commonplace.  Regionally-based fraud rings throughout the country, but especially in Hyderabad, continue to produce fraudulent documents for visa application and travel purposes.  Some visa "consultants" and travel agents specialize in fraudulent experience letters and fake document packages, which include passport copies of false relatives, bogus financial documents, and affidavits of support.

In the last six months the number of reported B1/B2 fraud cases throughout the Mission has nearly doubled from 1,089 to 2,121.    New Delhi uncovered an extensive network of fraudulent Lions Club conference attendees

An investigation by the Chennai FPU in 2008 uncovered a visa fraud racket through which famous Tamil film actors and industry associates assisted mala fide applicants to obtain B1/B2 visas, purportedly to scout movie locations (ref Q).  Over two hundred applicants applied for visas under this scheme, and 95 were issued. Thirty-eight of those applicants are confirmed overstays who are currently illegally present in the United States.  FPU revoked the visas of 56 other individuals, mostly Tamil film stars and industry associates, for their direct role in this visa scheme.  The case generated significant press attention throughout India and appeared on all of the major news networks, thereby creating a very high-profile anti-fraud awareness  campaign.  "

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Jul 8, 2011 2:51 AM Shane Shane  says: in response to SS

Well if it is 'company confidential' then it should not be any blog of any public forum Its all together different debate why is it company confidential and why not. If a company is public doesnt mean its everything belongs to public! it like if you have elected your President of public services then President should share everything with public which he do at home. Just FYI I have sent this 'leak' to few people I know to run a quick check if its allowed or not. Lets wait and watch

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Jul 8, 2011 3:08 AM fivefamous fivefamous  says: in response to Shane

Irrespective of the fact whether it is okay or not, question is how exactly Don got this information? Did Don contact (even if he is not share holder) Infosys? If he did and got that information officially no problem in that.

I personally don't think it is such a big deal and Infosys will mid this - so I tend to agree with Don. So I'm not sure if it is that confidential as you are claiming. Only Infosys official person can confirm this.

However it is very interesting to see how exactly Don got this piece of information. If it is some sort of 'leak' as accused then it is so funny and very childish act  

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Jul 8, 2011 3:49 AM who knows who knows  says: in response to SS

By knowing all required policies are in place as a share holder I get confident on its operation. By the name of secret you end up having company like Satyam where you never know how the fund are utilized and real earnings. Public traded company policies are open for everyone's review not for company to keep it as secret.

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Jul 8, 2011 4:28 AM fivefamous fivefamous  says: in response to who knows

Ok so give me internet link to another company's visa policy for its employees.

I want to know who is doing what

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Jul 8, 2011 7:50 AM John John  says: in response to Don Tennant

what i dont understand is why only indian companies are being singled out for this? American companies like Juniper, Microsoft, amdocs, etc all abuse the B1 visa and also L1 visa to get cheaper ;abor who cannot change jobs on L1 visa. Why is no one talking about them or taking action

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Jul 8, 2011 7:57 AM John John  says: in response to John

I know for a fact that Ericsson gets B1 workers via Wipro to work in their CA office. Also personally know Juniper getting their own employees from their offshore office on B1 visa. Same tory with Amdocs getting their employees on B1 to work at clients like AT&T on rotating basis. They have got warning from USCIS several times and continue to practice the same. All clients are aware of this that these folks come for 2-3 months time frame

Really appreciate you following up on this case. It affects a lot of Americans

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Jul 8, 2011 9:19 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Don Tennant

Great find Don! 

I would take issue with some of the tasks they still believe they can perform.  Let's start with requirements gathering.

"Requirements Gathering-Discussions, meetings, analysis, documentation for activities/projects primarily to be performed outside of U.S. at a future date."

I believe that discussions, meetings, and (non-document producing) analysis are fair game.  Documentation is my point of contention.  Documents are deliverable in a project and much of that work is billable.  That is work that starts to tread on the job of the American Business Analyst.

Granted, it's not work that I (the software engineer) enjoy, but it is work and it is billable.  Note taking in meetings that aren't a project deliverable is OK.  But once you start drafting and editing documents you are working.  I don't care if you are putting together a project plan in MS Project or if you are putting together a word document detailing the executive summary - that is work. 

They do stipulate this: "Requirements gathering as part of a consulting contract to be performed in the U.S. is not permissible."

It doesn't matter where the project is to be performed.  If it is "work" to gather requirements for a US project while in the US, it is also logically "work" to do those same activities for projects outside of the US while in the US.

Some might accuse me of nit-picking.  Guilty.  These companies have got to walk the line.  If we don't keep them on a short leash, before long they will revert back to their old behavior.  And I'm not sure it is "old" behavior.  More than likely they are just being more sly about it.

I'd like to get even more strict with the body shops.  Let them brink a nook, iPad, smart phone, or notepad, and some pens.  Leave the laptop at home because if they bring it guess what they will use it for?  Answer: Work. 

I will say this... if they can use an iPad or smartphone to develop software and do work - let them.  They are now my hero.

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Jul 8, 2011 10:54 AM who knows who knows  says:

It is very much laughable for company of this big just started framing policy on Business visa usage where as it was utilizing the same for multiple decades.

I would like to bring every employee in front of law who had participated in the fraud by providing false invitation letter, so that no other employee in any of the company will take part in the fraud going forward. Why is that law only goes behind companies not the employees when they are the one having first hand information.

Why can't a employee say NO for participating in fraud and why is it so bad to say NO for participating in fraud. I assume it is because every employee thinks in worst case only company get caught and not them. Will those employees participate in printing fake currencies, no because they know for sure will get punishment to do so. This should be the same for any fraud on immigration visas too.

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Jul 8, 2011 11:19 AM hireamerican hireamerican  says:

Hmmm....then what can they actually do when they are in the US on a B1 visa?

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Jul 8, 2011 11:25 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to hireamerican

The four activity areas I listed in this post are examples of what B1 visa holders are allowed to do. The annotations that follow each in bold explain what's not permitted.

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Jul 8, 2011 11:34 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to John

It's not that Indian companies are being singled out. It's that the only person who had the guts to blow the whistle and go public works for Infosys, which is an Indian company. The real question is, why isn't there anyone working in the U.S. companies who has the guts to blow the whistle and go public?

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Jul 8, 2011 11:45 AM hireamerican hireamerican  says: in response to Don Tennant

Got it. Thanks.

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Jul 8, 2011 12:09 PM Shane Shane  says:

If I am not wrong this must be company's internal policy and some infosicon has voilated company's policy and shared it with Don. Don should not have shared it in public forum in this blog. I will like to have an opinion from somebody outside this forum and hence would be sending link of this article to them. Thanks!

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Jul 9, 2011 10:21 AM hireamerican hireamerican  says: in response to EngiNERD

The below article is right now...about the events that transpired.... I was so disappointed and felt people had been brainwashed that I did not even vote that year

http://independentnepa.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=442&Itemid=

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Jul 9, 2011 12:01 PM EngiNERD EngiNERD  says: in response to R. Lawson

Regarding   US companies  abusing the  H-1B, B-1   visa  programs

let me throw this into the discusion

Ever held  of the   Government-media Complex? 

Do a GOOGLE  search:    Government - Media  Complex

And then there is the Business  -  Media  complex !

How much news to you read, see,  hear  on the issue of American Job Destruction?

Dan Rather Reports ( www.hd.net/programs/danrather) is just  exposing there are  problems  with the visas programs.

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Jul 9, 2011 12:05 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Don Tennant

"The real question is, why isn't there anyone working in the U.S. companies who has the guts to blow the whistle and go public?"

Sounds like a little challenge.  There are actually cases where we are.  They certainly haven't been given the attention that the Infosys case has received.  Their core business is impacted by visa restrictions - most American companies would see it as a minor speed bump.

Despite the spin, offshoring would be crippled without the H-1b visa and if companies are required to obey the laws on the B and L visas.   This is a huge issue for these body shops.

Without the H-1b visa, my guess is that 80% of the body shops here would close overnight.

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Jul 11, 2011 3:45 AM xyz xyz  says: in response to hireamerican

I work for Infosys and the document clearly states that the policy document is company confidential. I am going to report this to Infosys IP cell. Don posting the contents here is "copyright infringement".

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Jul 11, 2011 7:14 AM who knows who knows  says: in response to xyz

How does release of this document "Copyright infringement" ? Document says what is the right (as per Infosys) way to interpret the immigration law and it is just a employee guide not a company secret code.

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Jul 12, 2011 7:50 AM who knows who knows  says: in response to xyz

You have no clue what is confidential and what is not. Company can claim whatever they want but it is not them who decide what is confidential when they decided to go to court. Let Infosys try this in court and they will know what is Shield laws (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_laws_in_the_United_States) and reporter's privilege (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reporters%27_Privilege)  and power it gave to journalism.

Only privately owned company can call everything private, Infosys is public company and journalist will try to dig as much information as possible to make them truthful to their investors.

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Jul 12, 2011 9:08 AM fivefamous fivefamous  says: in response to who knows

As I said earlier - Infosys may not give a damn about this and won't care about taking any action on this. Nothing wrong in bringing this information out either. However through out discussion it is clearly coming out 'how' exactly this information is 'leaked' unless Don clarifies otherwise.

Only Don can confirm this. Everyone else will give their own judgement. Some will say 'great job Don!!', some will say cheap act.

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Jul 12, 2011 12:32 PM xyz xyz  says: in response to who knows

Does "Company Confidential" ring any bell to you? ting tong....?

Its for the company to decide what stays within the company vs what goes out even if its a simple email. And a policy document sure can be "CONFIDENTIAL".

"Leave policy" of a company just states how many leaves an employee will get - but that could be confidential - It should not be circulated to media and definitely not to bloggers. Just like in the exmaple above - media or so called "bloggers" can dissect every word of a document. and companies sure don't want that to happen.

Whoever leaked a company confidential document to Don, is equally the culprit as Don is. If this is identified as a copyright infringment by Infosys and proved in the court of law, there could be reasonable enough penalty for that person and Don. But Infosys would probably not bother about such petty posts anyways.

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Jul 19, 2011 7:28 AM Wakjob Wakjob  says:

As someone who has worked in IT as a programmer for almost 20 years I can say without reservation that InfoSys is just the tip of the iceberg. The aindian outsourcers are the biggest organized crime reacket this country has ever known. So big and so corrupt that it drawfs anything Chicago 1920s gangsters or the Italian Mob could ever pull off. This entire thing is one giant fraud designed to suck the wealth out of the US. No one cared or paid attention when this all started back in the booming 90s. No one would listen to us tech workers then but they are listening now.

India's "businesses" operating in the US are just giant wealth siphoning machinery. The game works like this:

1) See the huge tech boom in the 90s and buy a bunch of PR in US news by hiring DC lobbying firms like Hill & Knowlton. Pump "worker shortages" stories into US media to make most Americans think Indians are actually skilled and can help America.

2) Bribe/pay off/own politicians like Bill Clinton and many US congressmen to raise the visa caps. Funny how Bill Clnton made several trips to India just before the caps were raised.

3) Bribe managers at US companies to lay off American workers and replace them with Indians.

4) Quietly have American IT workers train the incoming Indians, most of whom don't have real degrees and most of whom have never seen a lightswitch, let alone programmed a computer.

5) Meanwhile continue to have your paid PR firms pump out endless propaganda about how Americans are too dumb for IT and only brilliant Indians can do the work. Demonize and remove the Americans who built Silicon Valley so that you can take it over.

6) Be sure to get as many Indian managers into positions with hiring authority as possible. Throw out good American workers and replace them with incomoetents from the 3rd world. Keep this up as long as possible and clean all the companies out. As lng as Indians work the jobs their paychecks will be going back to India instead of being spent here in the US. When the company collapses, move on to the next one and repeat. Keep this up for a decade or so. When Silicon Valley collapses, move to Detroit. When Detroit collapses, move to Wall St. When Wall St. Collapses move on to US gov't jobs.

7) When the US economy collapses a decade later because Americans income has been taken away from them and they can't pay the mortgage, blame it on the bankers and that Americans "borrowed too much".

8) Send $45 billion USD back to India every year causing the Fed to have to print huge amounts of $ in order to make up for the lost wealth. That will have the side effect of driving prices up, further impoverishing Americans.

9) Systematically deny any and all IT jobs to Americans, just because they are Americans.

10) While you are cleaning out the companies, also destroy as much tech and innovation as possible. This will further reduce America's competitiveness.

As a side note I interviewed at Junioer once. The HR manager was from Maylasia and the 2 people who interviewed me were from India and China. In fact I didn't see one American the whole time I was there and EVERY worker I saw there was foreign. Of course I didn't get hired because I was American. The Indian interviewer told me to do a programming problem on the board and when I did he got really angry at me. That was when I realized it was a fake interview just so they could say they looked for a qualified American but didn't find one.

So now you know the whole story of these criminal RICO bodyshops from India who are tearing up our economy like a swarm of crazed locusts. There will be no recovery until we put an end to this and put Americans back to work.

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Jul 23, 2011 5:48 AM ignos ignos  says: in response to Don Tennant

The answer is simple: because India is a third world country with no whistleblower protection.

A major Indian bank spent about 7 million Rupees (a princely sum for the Indians) to muzzle a lone whistleblower. Most of it went to legal fees to retain a high profile lawyer-politician of the Indian Congress (Abhishek Singhvi) who takes on such cases on behalf of big businesses:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rupees-69L-to-muzzle-whistleblower/articleshow/6182326.cms

Predictably the harassed whistleblower caved in soon after:

   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Harassed-whistleblower-forced-to-give-up-fight-buy-peace-with-bank/articleshow/6721813.cms

This is testimony to the vulnerability of whistleblowers in an Indian court of law.

Another tool used for whistleblower harassment is the Indian police, as the police enjoy vast powers to investigate internet social media.  A globalized indian organization has used police to harass india-born whistleblowers located in various countries: see http://is.gd/cxTAv , http://dlvr.it/2qKk2 , http://ow.ly/1JDnf . The former chief of Infosys (Murthy) is listed on the Board of this global indian organization. If that is any indication, it is certainly conceivable that Infosys has the capability to silence any India-born whistleblowers in like fashion.

Jay Palmer being a US citizen certainly helps him speak freely.

It is not that India lacks whistleblowers, it is just that the odds are stacked heavily against them !

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Dec 5, 2011 3:16 AM Kris Kris  says: in response to who knows

In organization like Infosys employees have very little say in these kind of matters, to begin with technical guys have very little knowledge on the legalities or rather they just dont care and rely on their management to decide what is right and wrong. Having said that, its still no justification for being ignorant. This incident will act as a brainer for employees now, and that they need to do their homework.

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Dec 20, 2011 1:28 AM Kalyan Kalyan  says:

Don, the very fact that you have done little, in the name of blogging, to bring out anything from the other companies tells a lot about your commitment to get to the core of this issue. For all I know about Infosys, it is one of the most straightforward, approachable and law-respecting companies around. The fact that they have a document of their intentions outlines the very commitment shown by the company towards the issue. I know of a hell a lot of companies that don't state it and let folks into a wild goose chase for such details, even employees. Partly it works to their favor that people like you never get to see such docs, that will never exist!

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