Newly released internal correspondence shows that Infosys knowingly had B-1 visa holders illegally assigned to work at Sears Holdings, and sheds light on the internal machinations Infosys used to try to circumvent U.S. immigration laws.
The internal correspondence was released to me by Kenny Mendelsohn, the attorney representing Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, whose pending civil suit against Infosys alleging visa and tax fraud sparked the U.S. government's ongoing criminal probe of the company. A study of the documents reveals the flagrancy of Infosys' illegal activity, and the troubling impact it had on the B-1 visa holders whose livelihoods were resting on a false foundation.
On Aug. 2, 2010, an Infosys employee on a B-1 visa assigned to a project at Sears Holdings in Hoffman Estates, Ill., had a problem that he posted on ServCentrale, Infosys' internal service management support and incident tracking system:
I have travelled to US on a Business Visa last week and currently I am assigned to a project in Sears Holdings. I wanted to open a bank account here and for the purpose I would need to present a address proof letter. Since I have travelled on a business visa and the fact that I am not able to create a new trip in Payworld [Infosys' overseas salary management system], I am not able to get the letter generated from there. Would you be able to send me an address proof letter?
As the employee noted, the reason he was unable to generate the letter in Payworld was that he was on a B-1 visa, which means that he was not authorized to draw a salary here. So he found himself in the same predicament that all the other illegal B-1 visa holders find themselves in: He was unable to do something as routine as open a bank account.
The incident was assigned the same day to Mohan MC in Infosys' human resources operations, who on Aug. 3 responded to the B-1 worker via the ServCentrale system:
We will issue the letter as requested, before that you should update your US address in pay World.
Later on Aug. 3, the B-1 worker responded to Mohan:
Actually I have travelled to US on a Business Visa. Due to that reason I am not eligible for salary That's the reason why I had gone for an offline request for an address proof letter.
On Aug. 4, Mohan emailed a screenshot of this ServCentrale exchange to Linda Manning, an HR associate in Infosys' Plano, Texas, office, along with these instructions:
Please assist with the below request from the employee in the screen shot.
Manning, knowing it would be illegal to issue the proof of address letter, refused to go along with the plan. Her email response to Mohan was unflinching:
Do not issue this letter. We cannot provide any letters unless the address is in Payworld.
The hapless B-1 worker was out of luck.
A second B-1 worker would find himself in a more serious predicament. After illegally working here for over four months, he applied for the Social Security number he needed to function in the United States. On Jan. 12, enmeshed in a Catch-22 not of his own making, he emailed this plea to Manning:
I landed in US on 12-Aug 2010 and I-94 [Arrival-Departure Record that non-U.S. citizens complete upon entry into the United States] was expiring by 10 Oct 2010. Since the expiry date was very near SSN was denied for me and they insisted that I need to return to their office after I receive the extension of petition & I-94 document.
I got the extension approved by USCIS and had the document on 07 Jan , Today when I approached the SSN office they accepted the application but the officer had a question on how my salary is processed for past 4 months. Officer tried to reach on [TELEPHONE NUMBER REDACTED] to talk with HR and left a voice mail stating the reason.
Request you to call to the number mentioned below and explain how the salary has been processed for last 4 months. Also, I have enclosed the communication received from Social security administration in the month of September.
[PERSONAL INFORMATION REDACTED]
Please help me out in sorting the issue, She insisted that if no one turns up from Infosys within 2-3 days she cannot process the request. Let me know for any additional information required.
Later the same day, Manning forwarded the email to payroll specialist Dennis Jackson, with cc's to Nandini Lal, an Infosys senior HR lead manager; and Lynne Grant, Infosys' employee relations manager. Manning made no attempt to hide her disgust:
Would someone please respond to all? I want to know the same thing. How do we legally pay someone for 4 months with no SSN? Also someone needs to contact the SSA [Social Security Administration] in order for this employee to obtain a SSN.
Someone other than Palmer was pushing back. All of the shenanigans that Infosys had been engaging in to try to beat the U.S. system were beginning to unravel. The question that Manning asked - "How do we legally pay someone for four months with no SSN?" - is a tough one to try to answer. It will be even tougher when these Infosys officials have to answer it under oath.