The visa fraud case against Infosys Technologies brought by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer has captured Washington's attention, and has raised the question of whether the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security will cease approval of H-1B and B-1 visas for Infosys until the case is resolved.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) today wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, in which he cited Palmer's lawsuit against Infosys. Here's an excerpt:
I'm very concerned about fraudulent actions that at least one foreign-based company has allegedly been taking in order to get around the requirements and U.S. worker protections of the H-1B visa program, and more generally, about provisions in current guidance to visa adjudicators that actually authorize such evasion of Congressional intent.
On February 23, 2010, a U.S. employee of Infosys Technologies Limited, Inc. ("Infosys") filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Alabama, alleging that his employer was "sending lower level and unskilled foreigners to the United States to work in full-time positions at Infosys' customer sites in direct violation of immigration laws." The plaintiff described ways that Infosys, one of the top ten H-1B petitioning companies, had worked to "creatively" get around the H-1B visa program in order to bring in low-skilled and low-wage workers, resulting in visa fraud against the U.S. Government. The formal complaint against Infosys details how Infosys management in India decided to use the B-1 business visitor visa program to get around H-1B program restrictions. The plaintiff alleges that Infosys was importing foreign workers as B-1 business visitors under the guise of attending meetings rather than working for a wage as an employee of a U.S. company, which is forbidden under the statute and regulations governing the B-1 visa program.
Grassley posed a range of questions to Clinton and Napolitano, and requested that they respond no later than April 28. Those questions included:
What actions, if any, are being taken against employers who abuse the B-1 visa program? Will the Departments consider barring such employers from any visa program if found guilty of misusing the visa system? Will the Departments cease to approve visas for Infosys until the lawsuit in Alabama is settled? If not, what additional oversight and/or actions will be taken until the Infosys lawsuit is finalized?
Grassley isn't the only senator who's looking into the Infosys case. Earlier this month, representatives from the offices of Grassley and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) contacted Palmer and his attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, to get more information about the case. I spoke with Mendelsohn last night, and he told me about the conversation:
They mainly wanted Jay's insight into the issues, and he's been preparing more information to give them, from an insider's perspective, of how companies, and in particular Infosys, are getting around both H-1 and B-1 restrictions. They discussed ways the country may be able to better enforce the laws we have, and if there are any loopholes, ways to close those loopholes through legislation. A lot of it related to the stuff that isn't loopholes, but are direct violations. So the question becomes, how can we as a country better enforce the laws that we have, and how can we legislate improvements? Jay has provided them with some information; where it goes from here, I don't know. I don't know whether they'll want him to come to Washington to testify or anything like that yet. We'll find that out later on. But he's fully cooperating, and if they need him to come up there, he'll go; if they need him to testify, he'll do that.