February - 2014 - issue > Attorney Viewpoint

The $34 Million Question: What IT Consulting Companies Should Learn from the Infosys Settlement

Jang Hyuk Im
Monday, February 10, 2014
Jang Hyuk Im
Infosys, one of India's largest IT consulting companies traded over the NYSE with market capital exceeding $30 billion could not escape the U.S. government's investigation into the legality of its immigration practices as evidenced by its recent $34 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), regarding claims that the company improperly used the B-1 nonimmigrant classification in violation of the U.S. immigration laws. So the $34 million question is "What can we learn from the Infosys settlement?"

Beware the Whistleblower

One of the hard lessons that Infosys learned was the impact that a disgruntled employee could have on its activities. The DOJ investigation began after an employee complained that Infosys was bringing in foreign workers to the United States on B-1 visas for unlawful work assignments. This whistleblower stands to collect a portion of the settlement proceeds so the financial incentive to report organizational misconduct is strong. Couple that with the whistleblower's resentment of the employer and you have a recipe for the type of expensive disaster that Infosys just experienced.

Do Not Neglect the Legal Limits on the B-1 Visa Classification

The B-1 visa classification allows foreign nationals to engage in certain activities. These include consulting with the U.S. business associates; attending business conventions; participating in litigation; negotiating contracts; and other temporary activities involving and incident to international trade or commerce. But the B-1 category does not permit employment or labor for hire. This means B-1 visitors cannot work here while in the US.

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