Infosys, an international tech company with offices in Plano, is paying a record $34 million to settle claims of visa fraud and abuse.
Federal agents in North Texas led the investigation.
In 2011, a whistleblower brought possible visa fraud complaints to the attention of investigators regarding Infosys' Plano location, which is responsible for handling the company's immigration practices and procedures.
George Nutwell, with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, says investigators found records of more than 6,000 foreign nationals brought to the United States to work for Infosys on lower-level, less expensive B-1 visas. Those are for temporary training and meetings, not daily employment.
“This was not a simple, isolated visa fraud case," Nutwell said. "In fact, the visa abuse was systemic and widespread at Infosys.”
On the improper B-1 visas, foreign workers were paid the going rate in India for tech engineers, not the higher U.S. rate. Nutwell says that allowed Infosys to underbid competitors for contracts and fatten its bottom line.
John Bales, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, says prosecutors struggled with choosing either criminal prosecution or opting for a civil settlement. They chose the settlement, the largest ever in an immigration-related investigation.
“Inofsys is a corporation that does provide value to the American economy, and we’re not in the business of putting people out of business,” Bales said.
In a statement, Infosys denies and disputes any claims of systemic visa fraud or misuse of visas for competitive advantage.
Bales says that Infosys has made significant improvements and now appears to be operating in compliance. He says investigators may soon have other companies in their sights.
“We have anecdotal information that other companies, outsourcing tech companies who can place folks here, under contract basis, have similar issues," he said.
Bales says the whistleblower in the Infosys case will be “amply and justly rewarded.” He’ll get part of the settlement, likely several million dollars.