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Infosys Settles Visa Fraud Claims for $34M

(CN) - Infosys, an India-based technology company that brought foreign nationals to its Texas office, reached a $34 million settlement of federal visa fraud claims.

In a civil complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement on Wednesday, the United States claimed that Infosys had actively submitted false information to U.S. Consular officials and advising visa applicants. The goal of the deception was to conceal the true purpose behind its use of foreign workers in the United States.

Infosys allegedly had a widespread practice of flying foreign nationals to the U.S. to work more cheaply than an American would work.

In the settlement, filed in Sherman, Texas, Infosys admitted that it failed to maintain accurate records for many of its foreign employees in the United States, "including a widespread failure to update and re-verify the employment authorization status of a substantial percentage of its foreign national employees."

The company denied allegations that "Infosys knowingly and unlawfully used B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labor in order to fill positions in the United States for employment that would otherwise be performed by United States citizens or require legitimate H-1B visa holders," to increase its own profits and avoid tax liabilities.

According to the complaint, Infosys submitted "invitation letters" to U.S. Consular officials that stated the purpose of travel was for meetings or discussions, when the true purpose of the visit was not permitted under a B-1 visa.

"Infosys provided instructions to B-1 visa holders regarding how to deceive U.S. Consular Officials and/or Customs and Border Protection Officers, including specific direction regarding the avoidance of certain terminology, the avoidance of contract terms, and the use of misleading job titles, in order to secure entry of the visa holder into the United States," the complaint states.

A "Dos and Don'ts" list provided by Infosys to foreign nationals applying for a B-1 visa told applicants not to mention any activities that sound like work, not to use the words "work" or "activity," and not to mention anything about contract rates, the government says.

A B-1 visa allows an employee to work in the United States for up to six years.

Infosys claims, however, that "no Consular Official was misled about the nature of the activities to be conducted by the B-1 traveler by any of the letters alleged by the United States or submitted in support of other B-1 visa applications."

It also says that the "Dos and Don'ts" list "was not intended to deceive U.S. officials, and, in any event, the company ended the use of this memorandum in 2011."

Most of the $34 million dollar settlement will go to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas, where Infosys' U.S. immigration office is headquartered.

With $10 million remaining, that amount will be split between Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of State.

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