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Indian Firm To Pay Record Fine In Visa Fraud Settlement

The federal government is set to hand out the largest fine ever for visa fraud to an Indian outsourcing firm. News organizations reported Tuesday that Infosys has settled with the government for $34 million for trying to skirt the high costs and delays of obtaining skilled foreign worker visas for Indian software developers.

Aired 10/30/13 on KPBS News.

Indian tech outsourcing firm to pay largest ever fine for visa fraud.

Infosys allegedly brought Indian workers into the U.S. on temporary business visitor visas, B-1 visas, instead of the scarcer H-1B visas.

According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors allege that the company “systematically submitted misleading information to American immigration authorities and consular officials to obtain the faster visas, unfairly gaining a competitive edge and undercutting American workers qualified for the jobs.”

Prosecutors also allege that Infosys allowed temporary foreign workers to continue working in the U.S. after their work visas expired.

In a statement, the company denied "any claims of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage, or immigration abuse." It also said the resolution with the U.S. Justice Department had not been finalized.

U.S. tech firms have long complained about the shortage of visas for high-skilled workers. As we reported, this year’s allotment of H-1B visas (65,000) was snatched up in just five days.

High tech firms like San Diego’s Qualcomm have joined labor and pro-immigrant groups to push for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would expand and reform the H-1B visa system, while also providing a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

The Senate's immigration reform bill, passed in June, would greatly expand the number of visas and green cards for foreign high-skilled workers.

But some economists say U.S. firms exaggerate the need to import foreign workers and accuse them of exploiting the system to pay lower wages than they’d have to pay to U.S. workers. A similar argument is at the heart of the Infosys case.

The investigation into Infosys was prompted by two whistleblowers — both American workers, one in California and one in Texas — who claimed they faced retaliation for calling out the company’s practices of skirting federal immigration law.

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