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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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