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Infosys Fined $35M For Illegally Bringing Programmers Into US On Visitor Visas

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the if-you-ain't-cheatin'-you-ain't-tryin' dept.

Businesses 201

McGruber writes "The U.S. government fined Infosys $35 million after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits — instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas — to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays. The alleged practice enabled Infosys to undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for clients, according to people close to the investigation. Infosys clients have included Goldman Sachs Group, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Infosys said in an email that it is talking with the U.S. Attorney's office, 'regarding a civil resolution of the government's investigation into the company's compliance' with employment-record 'I-9 form' requirements and past use of the B-1 visa. A company spokesman, who confirmed a resolution will be announced Wednesday, said Infosys had set aside $35 million to settle the case and cover legal costs. He said the sum was 'a good indication' of the amount involved."

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Big deal (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274177)

I'm sure Infosys made more than $35mln by bringing those programmers in the way they did. Aside from not having to pay for the H1B visas, they could pay the programmers much less this way. Of course nothing will change. They'll start doing the same thing again. These settlements show when you have enough money, anything is legal.

Re:Big deal (4, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45274203)

35M is enough that someone internal is going to pay the price -- and by price, I mean leave his executive position and go to work for another tech company in high management for a similar paycheck where he'll repeat the process.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274565)

Nah, maybe they'll outsource the job to India. Then to continue his career a move to India will be necessary.

Then again, the company in India might outsource the job to the US and hire him back.

Re:Big deal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274715)

35M is enough that someone internal is going to pay the price -- and by price, I mean leave his executive position and go to work for another tech company in high management for a similar paycheck where he'll repeat the process.

35M is the cost of just 1 medium project - not even a slap on the wrist. This should have had 2 more zeroes added to it.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275415)

35M is enough that someone internal is going to pay the price -- and by price, I mean leave his executive position and go to work for another tech company in high management for a similar paycheck where he'll repeat the process.

35M is the cost of just 1 medium project - not even a slap on the wrist. All of the executives who were responsible for this should be hanged for treason.

FTFY.

Re:Big deal (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45275397)

You can bet that whomever decided to do this either:
a. Had a legal team calculate the cost in fines and deduced they'd make more money than the fines would cost them by doing this.
or
b. (most likely) didn't check, didn't care, implemented the strategy and raked in large bonuses until the feds started asking questions at which time he/she either retired or moved on to another job. Ironically they likely will point to Infosys for the rest of their career and say "See how great they were doing right up until I left?"

Re:Big deal (4, Informative)

casings (257363) | about a year ago | (#45274231)

Whats worse is they even probably had a strategic team analyze how much they would get fined if they were caught, and decided it was worth the risk.

As long the US government gets their cut, the people who get screwed are the people who play by the rules. Fuck everything about big business and their collusion with the government.

Re:Big deal (-1, Flamebait)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#45274411)

...the people who get screwed are the people who play by the rules.

Takers get the honey, givers sing the blues.

Re:Big deal (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45274451)

There is a pretty easy cure for all of this...

Just re-write the H1-B laws so that all H1-B workers must be paid 20% more than industry standard for the region or area the job is located in. That, or have a 20-40% premium on each worker's salary paid by the hiring company as an excise tax.

I bet that shit would stop cold right away.

Re:Big deal (5, Interesting)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about a year ago | (#45274587)

There is a pretty easy cure for all of this...

Just re-write the H1-B laws so that all H1-B workers must be paid 20% more than industry standard for the region or area the job is located in. That, or have a 20-40% premium on each worker's salary paid by the hiring company as an excise tax.

I bet that shit would stop cold right away.

It isn't enough. A lot of the draw of H1B is the lack of mobility. Let them freely change jobs and allow them to have a 1 year grace period between jobs if they've been in their first job for a year.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275561)

Umm. They already can freely change jobs (not to a job at Starbuck's, but into a programming job). It's called H1-B portability and it's been around since about year 2000. Employer fills out a form, drops it in the mail and you're good to go.

Two of my hires this month are moving from junk companies to a decent company exactly this way.

Re:Big deal (4, Insightful)

Mateorabi (108522) | about a year ago | (#45275579)

Give H1B holders who blow the whistle on their employers violating the law (overworking them, or claiming and paying them as if it were a much lower skilled job that in reality is higher skilled, the employer just wanted to scare off US workers, etc.) either fast-path to a Green Card, double the pay (paid by fines) they would have earned, and/or freedom to move to a different employer for their stay.

I.e. change the incentives for H1B visa holders to rat out misbehaving employers, rather than being scared to say anything because they loose if they do.

Re:Big deal (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about a year ago | (#45275653)

Give H1B holders who blow the whistle on their employers violating the law (overworking them, or claiming and paying them as if it were a much lower skilled job that in reality is higher skilled, the employer just wanted to scare off US workers, etc.) either fast-path to a Green Card, double the pay (paid by fines) they would have earned, and/or freedom to move to a different employer for their stay.

I.e. change the incentives for H1B visa holders to rat out misbehaving employers, rather than being scared to say anything because they loose if they do.

That's like saying cops as a whole won't abuse power if we listen to the rare whistle blowers every now and then. When the system itself is abusable by design, 4 or 5 honest actors aren't going to fix that, you have to fix the system.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275903)

The 20% - 40% premium would probably be enough although also allowing free movement between companies for the duration of the visa would be even better. At a high enough salary, a worker is unlikely to hop jobs anyway. Since the real problem with the H-1B program is that it is used to lower wages while officially purporting to be a means of allowing the best and the brightest foreigners to work in the US, why not force a wage premium? The best and brightest foreigner should be more capable than the average American and is thus deserving of a higher wage per free market principles.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274641)

Or, just stop with the "tax everything that upsets the status quo" mentality.

Re:Big deal (1)

dk20 (914954) | about a year ago | (#45275129)

How many lobbyists would oppose this proposal?

Re:Big deal (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about a year ago | (#45275305)

20% isn't steep enough. If employers really can't find qualified people in this country, then they won't mind paying double or triple the market rate to get people with the necessary skills.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275629)

Could you spell it out for us? Making H1-B's more expensive somehow stops "all this" and "that shit"?
As is clear from the article, this shit was a company avoiding H1-B's because of the cost and hassle. But if H1-B's
were even more expensive ... I give up. Infosys would have behaved better, why exactly?

 

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275641)

dude research L1. H1's CTC is already 50% higher.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274783)

Nah, the cost of the disaster comes out of a different budget. You save the company $10M, you get a huge bonus and a pat on the back, and then the company finds out you cheated, they pay $35M in fines but you've still got your bonus, your sector of the company still performed well, where's the problem?

Modern shareholders are asleep, they see "We saved $10M" and "We had to pay $35M fine" and they don't make out the total "We lost $25M of your money with our recklessness" and they don't start firing board members. So it will happen again. If the board at Infosys believed that every time this happens some of them will have to empty their pockets and leave the building they would perk up more when it comes to oversight, which is supposed to be their job. As it is, they get paid rain or shine, why should they care who breaks the law?

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275105)

Whats worse is they even probably had a strategic team analyze how much they would get fined if they were caught, and decided it was worth the risk.

Sounds like you're describing a conspiracy to defraud the government, conspiracy to commit multiple felonies including misuse of Passport, fraud and misuse of visa, and fraud and related activities in connection with identification documents and information. I'd hate to be in their shoes after the US government seizes all their US property under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

As long the US government gets their cut, the people who get screwed are the people who play by the rules. Fuck everything about big business and their collusion with the government.

Oh, right... nevermind.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275425)

says the guy who most assuredly works for big business..

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275491)

if you're actually threatened by offshoring you're probably not all that good at your job anyway

Re:Big deal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274675)

Imagine if they faced the kinds of fines leveled at file sharers/pirates.

Re: Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274747)

Hard to get? I thought the govenment was handing thouse things out like candy on Halloween! This is why the quality of code and pay for devs will have that spiralling flushing sound... Look at the names here, 35 million is a tiny sum... Shoud be, people going to jail, for knowingly breaking the law! But this a country governed by corporations!

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275219)

$35,000k divided by $50k per developer per year makes 700 developers.
If you hire 700 devs in a year pay them $50k less than you would have to do otherwise. Great business model.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275611)

The secret visa is L1. Even in CIR there is no talk on L1. The outsourcing companies rely heavily on L1, not H1Bs. L1 has no annual caps and there is no minimum wage requirement. Just the application fee is higher for L1. For fees - B1 L1 H1. L1 to GC requires no Labor verification.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275643)

What they should have done was something dramatic like see how much profit the company made last year and then fine them that much. That would be a good bitch slap, and example to the rest of the tech industry.

When (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#45274189)

When is the punishment going to be "No, you're out of business, you fraud. You don't play fair. You cost us jobs. You're GONE."

These bastards *made* more than 35 million off the scam. They're turning a profit off it.

Re:When (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274677)

When is the punishment going to be "No, you're out of business, you fraud. You don't play fair. You cost us jobs. You're GONE."

As much as I would also delight in seeing some real justice, this solution (as well as any other I've heard) fails to account for the punishment's impact. We're trying to punish the company, not its likely innocent employees. How do we do that? Take away their U.S. business license? Everyone local loses their jobs, company continues expanding overseas, the only people hurt are American bystanders. What if we jail the executives and let the federal government take over the business? Ignoring the feds' history of being unable to manage anything resembling a business, this is clearly a slippery slope toward communism. And why would a company invest any finances or personnel into a branch of itself that could be confiscated at any moment? We'd be no better than China is now.

The biggest problem in all this is that the wealthiest corporate overlords, the people really making decisions about $35mil fines being worth it, can always vote with their feet. A few months ago there was a series of stories about wealthy people in California registering their out-of-state homes as their primary ones for tax purposes to avoid Cali's ever growing state taxes. Next time, they'll be switching to their Southeast Asian homes. If doing business in any one country becomes too much of a hassle, they'll shift their focus to a country where the politicians are more grateful for any lobbyists willing to donate a Ferrari to their campaign in exchange for looser regulations.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the current system and agree that this is yet another example of a corporation getting slapped on the wrist, but they might leave this abusive relationship if we ever actually tried to hit them back. Then we'd be even more screwed.

Re:When (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45274787)

As much as I would also delight in seeing some real justice, this solution (as well as any other I've heard) fails to account for the punishment's impact. We're trying to punish the company, not its likely innocent employees.

Every employee at the company was complicit. If they lose their jobs over this sort of thing enough times, they'll learn to quit working for unethical assholes.

Re:When (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45274833)

There would be no jobs. Then everybody loses.

Re:When (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275343)

Do you actually think no jobs would be a bad thing? Do you think if suddenly no one had a job the entire population of the nation would commit mass suicide? I promise you we would be better off.

Re: When (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275183)

EVERY employee? Sorry nightshift janitor guy, but you're guilty as sin even if you had no idea what was going on.

Re:When (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#45275657)

First, the "But there are innocent people that depend on them for their livelihood" excuse is ridiculous. If we are going to use that logic, we should just get rid of all laws. They guy that breaks into your home, rapes your wife, and kills your dog on the way out may have an innocent child at home that depends on his livelihood. Letting corporations (and those that run them) get away with abusing millions of people just because they are rich is why they do it.

After that, letting the rich steal from the middle class and poor because they "might leave the country" is just as silly. These people and corporations are not a net benefit to the US. They are already siphoning money away from the US and sending it overseas. These people and corporations are a cancer to our economy. Sure it might hurt to lose a leg of our economy, but if you don't bite the bullet and eradicate the cancer early, it spreads and grows. You end up losing both legs and half your torso.

Re: When (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275933)

Are you serious? The problem with your argument is that Infosys actually brought people into America. As such they violated American law and displaced American workers illegally. How in the world would them following the law, albeit in favor of multinational orgs, or not following the law, not hurt American workers? Either way American workers get hit. And btw the reason why Infosys brings their workers here is because the offshore model does not work without being physically here...and, yes displacing a
American jobs.

Btw if they had not "settled" they would have been convicted and lost all visa privileges for ever...essentially a out of business verdict. Oh, maybe not, set up newco and it's round two.

Re:When (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#45274939)

Or ban them for having any visas for a year or so - if you abuse the system you should forfeit your privileges just as a number of "colleges" have been in the UK

Re:When (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275353)

Because every business that Bush/Obama bailed out would have to go down under. Take for instance Bank of America. They promised that the bailout money would create new jobs but they never claimed anything about it being in the US. So when they got their money, practically without contract, they fired everyone in the US and setup work in the Philippines. Well, I live in the Philippines now so it's kinda supportive but at the same time not because they people people $1.4/hr or so and tell the government not to do a thing. Well, now president Aquino is not liking this because he went into office with almost a libertarian mindset and he's trying to rid corruption all around whether it's internally or externally as long as it applies to the Philippines. I'm not saying he's perfect but he's much better (supposedly) than the other crooks that came into office before him. So BOA might have to look elsewhere in the end. But that won't phase BOA too much, they just need to talk to convergeys or something to bring customer support to India or something. Meanwhile, those jobs belong in the US because they were paid by tax dollars. But who can you blame when they did all they needed to do in their legal right? The government is the one that said they would do it (no public opinion) and they did it without strict contracts.

I'm just worried what will happen next because there are bills on the table that are for the government to get heavily involved in the public sector. I don't just mean regulating, I also mean they could easily buy out corporations if they wish. What does that have to do with the article? The government and corporations are and have been sleeping in the same bed since at least the 70s and they've been seeing each other since the federal dollar was introduced. It'll be a long time before we see corporations being punished accordingly.

Re:When (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#45275359)

Fraud as in a felony!? To hell with the fine, people need to be behind bars for this shit!

Next series... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274211)

F1 visas?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-Valley_University

Look at the bright side (4, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#45274223)

My guess is that more American companies will be looking into this as a solid business model, and that the fines will just be a cost of doing business.

Anything to get rid of those pesky American workers.

Re:Look at the bright side (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45274305)

But why bother?

H1B is not all that hard to get.
You just lay off your current workers, then lie about there being no available US workers that meet the (carefully crafted) criteria.

Re:Look at the bright side (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274903)

One word: Quota

There's a finite number of H1B's that are available every year, with a lottery-type system to see who gets them.

Re:Look at the bright side (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#45275661)

Except they don't. Where is this mysterious foreign worker that works for less money under the H-1B program? I've never met one, and I think I know why: The terms of obtaining them require that they are paid the same as anybody else working in that particular job.

Slashdot likes to have it both ways on this one: They claim that Americans are stupid, as marked by poor test scores below most of the developed world. Yet at the same time they insist that there's no need for H-1B visas because we have plenty of well educated workers.

Those two statements are mutually exclusive of one another, you're going to have to decide which one you think is more accurate. I personally note this: If the foreign workers weren't talented, nobody would hire them. I think it is probably a good thing that they come here, pay our taxes, contribute to our GDP, and add to our "brain pool". Alternatively, US companies can't find any talent at all, so a foreign competitor takes over the market on the global economy. No amount of tariffs or duties will stop the later from happening - the US can't tell Germany, England, or Australia who they are and aren't allowed to buy from.

Re:Look at the bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274691)

That's why I don't buy American.

Nothing in my society supports me, why should I support it?

Re:Look at the bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274773)

Wont you please think of the US three letter employee's (CEO, CFO, CIO...) bonus?

By outsourcing your job they saved money. They then did NOT pass the saving on by lowering the price to the consumer but instead fed it into their bonus pool.

H1B, providing value every day.

Re: Look at the bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274769)

You've got that right! Until the products begin to suck and the exectutives bail with the cash and ask the tax-payer for a bailout!

Seriously (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274239)

So the smart people, the productive, who come in illegally are criminals and we had better fine them. But the losers, dullards, and criminals who come here illegally are need to be protected, suck of the public welfare teet and allowed to stay.

Liberals are so dicked up it really aint even funny any more.

Re:Seriously (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45274335)

They are not fining the workers, they are fining the company that brought them in illegally.

The imported employees get spun off and transferred around so fast that the government loses track of them.
Probably find dozens of them working on Obamacare web site right now.

Re:Seriously (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#45274461)

The imported employees get spun off and transferred around so fast that the government loses track of them.

Imagine a day when our total surveillance is applied to something useful like flagging people who've overstayed their visas and looking for patterns of abuse.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274665)

Or intercepting communication that indicates government corruption and automatically uploading it to wikileaks :D

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274485)

It's sad but probably true.

Re: Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274847)

Yep! And relize the imports are the ones who couldn't find work at home probably because they suck at it, but because that will get 1/4 the compensation a native born worker would, they end up a hot commodity... And we wonder why we have economic problems! Americans can't or won't be able to pay the bills in the coming years... Go figure!

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275049)

+1

Is that Treble damages on top of fines? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274253)

For each and every position which they did not higher industry median wage for they should pay 3 times the difference in wages + benefits (including pay-ins to the government) that were not disbursed. Further they should also have to pay some type of fine per position, per (year/quarter) that the violations occurred.

In other words, they should for SURE show a net loss for this bad behavior. If the behavior is egregious enough those in authority at the time should also face real jail time.

Anything less than that is a slap on the wrist and will not curb this behavior among companies who look at the balance sheet and conclude that the fines are a cost of doing business.

Re:Is that Treble damages on top of fines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274331)

Exactly. But that won't happen. It is precisely actions like this which have caused wages for STEMS workers to be kept low at a time when it is "claimed" that there is a HUGE demand for STEMS workers, and that none can be found in the USA.

Yet the moment you look at pay (and factor in inflation), there has been only a ~10% rise in pay since 1995 for STEMS positions. According to the economic law of supply and demand, something isn't correct with the statements those companies are saying (and it has a lot to do with keeping pay low).

Re:Is that Treble damages on top of fines? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45274371)

The nail was hit on the head in the second sentence.

However, it wouldn't be the CEO who goes to jail but some lowly middle management type.

The CEO will simply deny any knowledge that this was going, on and everyone down the chain of
command will insist they never told the CEO what was going on, and anyone who refuses to tow the
company line will be forced to accept an assignment in Russia. *cough*.

Re:Is that Treble damages on top of fines? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#45274601)

The ceo doesn't have to say anything, any probe of him by any agency will be met by a phalanx of lawyers court with orders to leave him alone and instructions to question underlings and minions. The only time ceos and other top dogs have to face the music is in front of senate subcommittees, and that's rare enough.

Missing Step 2 (2, Insightful)

Notabadguy (961343) | about a year ago | (#45274275)

We're missing step #2, which is "And since you're defrauding the government among other customers, you're blacklisted from doing business with them again."

$35m isn't a drop in the bucket.

Re:Missing Step 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274337)

If fraud is involved, then somebody's ass needs to be in jail! That would get their attention and hopefully it would actually curtail the problem.

Re:Missing Step 2 (1)

dk20 (914954) | about a year ago | (#45274795)

its a white collar crime involving a lot of money, no one goes to jail for this.

Re:Missing Step 2 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274419)

"35m isn't a drop in the bucket."

Yes it is.

Revenue US$ 7.39 billion (2013)
Operating income US$ 1.90 billion (2013)
Profit US$ 1.72 billion (2013)

Re:Missing Step 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275377)

I'd call 2% of PROFIT a drop in the bucket.

Re:Missing Step 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275539)

NO it isn't. while I think the fine should be higher, a little over 2% of profit is actually a significant number, significant enough to impact share price marginally.

Re:Missing Step 2 (1)

EricTheGreen (223110) | about a year ago | (#45274593)

You're absolutely right....except you're assuming there is an actual finding/admission of guilt.

The article speaks of a "settlement" being announced. To my eyes, the probability of that settlement including an admission of culpability approaches zero.

Infosys will not be blacklisted, they'll mind their manners and volume for a bit, then quietly pick up where they left off on the contract pile.

And....allowing for that tiny percentage sliver, what if they do admit guilt and are barred from government contracting for whatever period? They just slide the excess capacity over to the contractual pile of Walmart, Sears, etc.

As others have mentioned, $35MM, while not a drop in the bucket, is small enough to be absorbed as a carrying cost of doing business, given the revenue stream.

I hate the whole sordid "enterprise staffing" model that spawns this garbage and hope fervently never to work with it again.

Re:Missing Step 2 (1)

Zak3056 (69287) | about a year ago | (#45274689)

I have a better punishment: no visas of any kind for three years. No h1b, no b1, your CEO can't have a visa for his quarterly visit, nothing. The punishment should fit the crime.

Re:Missing Step 2 (1)

dk20 (914954) | about a year ago | (#45274813)

Fine the companies who had the workers.
While not truly at fault, perhaps the burden should be with the one who pays the bills to ensure compliance with US laws?

Plus, one never knows what the arrangements were.

H1B Scam (5, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#45274299)

Dump H1B. Instead of giving out Visa for foreign nationals, we should try to KEEP foreign graduates in this country - make it easier for foreign students graduating from US colleges to live and work in the US.

This is no brainer - many of the best and brightest from all over the world are already here in our universities.

Re:H1B Scam (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274463)

And it would completely leave anyone who is not a student in the cold. I'm in the US on an H1B, working at a small tech startup. Since I joined the company, we have already doubled in size, hiring plenty more Americans. Are H1Bs sometimes abused? Yes, sure, it happens. On the other hand, I and other people like me are actively helping the US economy by creating new jobs.

Re:H1B Scam (2, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#45274667)

Since I joined the company, we have already doubled in size, hiring plenty more Americans. ... On the other hand, I and other people like me are actively helping the US economy by creating new jobs.

Do you honestly think there was nobody in the US who could have done your job? And that the growth of the company you work for is mainly because of your work product?

Arguing that H1Bs really help the US economy requires the answer to both to be "yes". Otherwise, you are simply taking a job that some US resident could have filled and claiming that you're helping him out by having it.

Re:H1B Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274781)

They had been looking for someone to fill this position for 6 months. Could someone from the US have filled this position? Sure, I don't have magical skills that no one else possesses. And yes, a big chunk of why we've grown is because the work I do has shown our investors we're on the right track and have in return received a bunch of funding that has allowed us to create new jobs.

Did I take some poor American's job? Maybe. But boo-hoo-hoo, cry me a river. It was slim pickings to begin with, and in the mean time I am more than happy to use my talents and skills to build a great company.

Re:H1B Scam (2, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year ago | (#45275117)

They weren't really looking for someone to fill the position for 6 months. They determined they wanted to hire someone on the cheap, and so they came up with some impossible criteria for the job. When no one was able to meet those impossible criteria, they hired you.

And yes, a big chunk of why we've grown is because the work I do has shown our investors we're on the right track and have in return received a bunch of funding that has allowed us to create new jobs.

Since you're not American, you might not be familiar with this reference, but there's a group of statistics in baseball with names like VORP -- value over replacement player. For example, if someone hits ten home runs in a year, they don't get any real credit for that, because any randomly chosen minor leaguer could have done the same. By your own admission, they could have gotten an American to do your job. So the work you've done hasn't really created new jobs. Those jobs could have just as easily been created by your replacement.

Please don't take this as an attack on you. It's not. If it were up to me, we'd let in any intelligent, hard-working technical worker and fast track them for a green card. But your company broke the law by hiring you when an American could have done the job. They did so to save money, and it came at the cost of driving down the standard of living for everyone.

Re:H1B Scam (2)

Pulzar (81031) | about a year ago | (#45275431)

But your company broke the law by hiring you when an American could have done the job. They did so to save money, and it came at the cost of driving down the standard of living for everyone.

You assume a lot. First, the criteria isn't that some American could've done the job, that would've taken just about every possible job off the list. It that's you've made a *reasonable* effort to find one and you didn't. Even if there are plenty of Americans in other cities who don't want to move, or the same city but with jobs they don't want to leave, it's still ok to hire somebody on H1-B.

And, second, how do you know they got him cheap? Every computer engineering company I've worked at has been paying foreign visa employees the same salaries as local employees, and they had to deal with significant lawyer and visa expenses to get the work permits, and later applications for permanent residency. The H1-B has always been the least preferred option in hiring discussion because of all that extra work.

Not every company is Infosys, and not every job is for an app developer. There are plenty of high-skilled engineering jobs out there that stay open for over a year because of the shortage of qualified candidates, and real and honest companies need to fill them to continue to do business and grow.

Re:H1B Scam (1, Troll)

Uberbah (647458) | about a year ago | (#45275489)

You assume a lot. First, the criteria isn't that some American could've done the job, that would've taken just about every possible job off the list. It that's you've made a *reasonable* effort to find one and you didn't. Even if there are plenty of Americans in other cities who don't want to move, or the same city but with jobs they don't want to leave, it's still ok to hire somebody on H1-B.

No, it means no American is able to fill the job for the ludicrous job requirements the company sets out. Either demanding 8 years experience in a language that's been out for six, or wanting applicants with doctorates and 15 years experience while offering pay suitable for a bachelors straight out of a community college. It's not like this is new.

Re:H1B Scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275817)

But the comment you are replying to is right about the rest of what he said. There are H1-B abuses based on lowered labor cost to be sure. (Though the article
is about the exact opposite: how the H1-B process and protections motivated Infosys to avoid H1-B's in the first place.)

But there are also plenty of H1-B's being hired without any such games, with no job requirement hacking, no consideration for lower salary, indeed it is usually a net cost to the company. I have hired or been involved in the hiring process of many (maybe 30+) H1-B's in my career, and in each case if someone had mentioned any possible cost saving we would have just looked at them blankly, literally uncomprehending. And to prefer an H1-B over an close American who applied, that would be crazy. On the other hand, the salaries paid for the H1-B's I've been involved with have been >80k. And that understates things: the majority, including the majority of new graduates (which is most of them), would be > 130k/year. And I'm paying 130k to a *new grad* on H1-B rather than an American because ... why? Well, I'm sure you can think of various nefarious reasons (go to it!), but you can be sure "I can save a bundle of money that way" ain't on the list. Nor by the way is "she is locked in and can't move".

Re:H1B Scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275585)

I don't get this moronic attitude. H1B's are not always some magic money making scheme for companies. We use H1B's where I work and we hate doing it as each H1B we bring in costs us around 10% more than what an American would. But we can't find enough skilled staff no matter how hard we try.

Re:H1B Scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275631)

+1. I had a bunch of open roles in Silicon Valley and it took 6 months to fill them. The mix ended up being some American citizens (the type born in India), some American citizens (the type the rednecks would call Americans), and some H1-Bs.

$150k+ base with a few years of experience and heading up. Absolutely zip difference in offer based on your visa status.

The 6 month ordeal wasn't because we're paying low, it's because the average lazy American (and lazy H1-Ber too) failed at the entry level coding questions so we had to keep looking. Lots and lots of people with experience who couldn't code their way through an elementary data structure.

Re:H1B Scam (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#45274777)

Nothing personal to you AC, and good that you're doing well here. But a large number of capable foreign students, some of world's best and brightest, come here on their own and graduate from our reputable schools, are already here and familiar with the land, and want to work and live here. When we are failing to accommodate these people, the industry's clamor for more H1B is utter nonsense - it serves the industry's aim to suppress wage rather than attracting talent to America.

Re:H1B Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274719)

I don't see how that would allow employers to abuse employees without fearing repercussions which is most of the point of the H1B visa program. They can be overworked, underpaid, sexually harrassed, anything the employer feels like doing to them. The employer has complete control because they can close the position and have the person deported in short order if they start complaining. If they were US citizens, the companies would have to act fairly. Who wants that?

Re:H1B Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275247)

I got a PhD in US. Had another doctorate from before I got there. I returned back after ~9 years in US, since I found the post-docs not worthwhile (I lost interest in academia). I am surprised at how hard it is to find work in US now. It seems that all the places interested in me are not equipped to do a H1B. They are just not big enough. It looks like major operations like Infosys have this segment cornered.

Re:H1B Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275531)

H1B has always been just smoke screen with the purpose of price-busting great income jobs. It's how big money figured out how to tip the job supply and demand equation. This is no.. and I do mean NO job that couldn't be done best by US workers.
I have worked at jobs where great people were replaced by H1B's who had less talent but worked cheaper and kissed-ass all day.
I also seen projects distroyed by crap work by the same H1B's
H1B should be eliminated ASAP !

Further proof of the H1B visa myth (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274443)

There are both good and bad reasons to grant Visas to tech workers. We should not turn down genuine talent that wants to work here. Having bright minds emigrate, work, live, contribute, and integrate here is probably one of the biggest foundations of America's success.

What we don't want is a bunch of scum fucks importing slave-pay workers to save a buck. I say bring in the IT/tech talent, but on the condition they are paid competitive wages and compensation (And enforce that with some teeth!). You also need to make sure they have freedom and mobility so their sponsor company can't hold their visa over them as a form of extortion.

Granting guest workers MORE privileges and protections will ensure that they're less attractive to unscrupulous outfits looking to save money instead of hiring available domestic talent. Companies that genuinely need foreign talent will happily pay for it.

They really should DIAF (1)

line-bundle (235965) | about a year ago | (#45274467)

I am angered and saddened by what companies like Infosys have done to the US immigration system. I remember having to fight really hard to get my first H1B in the US because of those companies (I got my US higher ed paid by the NSF yet I'm not American, and I'm not a programmer).

After they have completely wrecked the H1B system they are now going to wreck the visitor visa system.

I am angry because they destroyed the reputation of the H1B system, one of the few legal ways to become a citizen. I am saddened because Americans are have a stupid immigration debate on fundamentally illegals, yet leave such monsters prowling the halls of congress.

A lot of subcontinent firms gaming the system (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274615)

Infosys is not the only one gaming the system. My fortune 20 company is addicted to these "by the pound consultants" from the likes of Infosys/Tata/Berlasoft/you-know-who-you-are as well. There is zero effort put into sourcing local staff and the company pays substantial sums to these firms (who pocket half or more of the hourly rate) when they could just as easily get local employees for the same cost. Then there's the poor sods that are being raped by several levels of middle men and have to live 10 to a flat to make ends meet. The only real benefit to the local firm is the ability to extract hours out of these poor saps that local employees would balk at...as well as the ability to hire/fire on a whim rather than engage in any significant long-term planning.

The end result is a revolving door of consultants, poor productivity, poor knowledge retention, and poor morale on the part of both the "wage slaves" and the local staff who are interacting with them. And it's readily apparent that this local firm could hire local staff for approximately the same money and improve productivity and morale at the "cost" of not being able to bully wage slaves into working 60 hour weeks for a pittance (once the contractor firm cut is extracted).

Let's end the practice of enriching the TCS/Infosys companies of the world at the expense of college grads in this country (both foreign born and native born).

So don't make the H1-B such a pain (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#45274661)

First there was the green card
Then it got slow, bloated and hard to get.
So they invented the H1-B which was quick and easy.
Then it got slow, bloated and hard to get.
So they invented the guest worker pass
continue....

Just fix the green card and the others are unnecessary. If someone is a net benefit to the country, there's no reason to limit their stay.

The US government provided the visas and the visa rules to Infosys. It looks to me that they took the hint. The US does not look like it 'wants' people on H1s or Green cards because it makes it a stupidly slow, expensive and complex process to get them. The message they send by making the B1 relatively easier to get is - "Get a B1, we want to you get a B1, not those other visas".

And how much profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274693)

$35 million fine, eh? So I imagine that means that Infosys was actually able to make $1 billion+ in profit using this tactic? The fines for white collar crime never even come close to making the practice of breaking the law unprofitable. They'll probably even get the govt to issue a statement of no wrong done to get them to agree to not fight the settlement. Such has happened half a dozen times with Goldman Sachs. They're found to break the law, make billions doing it, get fined less than 1% of the profit and get the govt to say they did nothing wrong.

Expect to see more companies adopting this abuse of the Visa system as standard practice. If Infosys made $35.001M profit using this tactic, any business would see themselves as negligent if they did not immediately start breaking these laws.

Crime DOES pay kids. And it pays BIG. Just make sure it is white-collar crime and you do it in the name of a corporation. Even though white-collar crime costs 10x as much to the economy and kills 11x as many people as street crime, those in our society just do not care.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274749)

and abroad For [goat.cx]

Crooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274767)

Is every company run by crooks?
It sure seems so, and anything not expressively illegal is fine.

Is that why everything is so fucked up.
And when you do get caught oh well its just a fine.
No harm no foul.

Re:Crooks (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about a year ago | (#45275165)

And they wonder why people come to believe that capitalism is evil.

This should result in at least a 1B fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274801)

Crass acts of willful disrepect towards labor laws should result in the most severe fines and punishment available. In addition, the ones responsible for hiring these workers should be fined 1M apiece and sentenced to 1 year hard labour.

From Obama? (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#45274913)

And yet, Obama lets millions(?) of illegal immigrants take low-skilled jobs from U.S. workers, without consequence. He actually knowingly lets them stay; he even has the Border Patrol release them.

The Rest of the Story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45274999)

Infosys is a member of USIBC, a foreign business group that donates to the US Chamber of Commerce. The same Chamber of Commerce that Obama has claimed is illegal and has been at war with for years.

Meanwhile, Obama is asking for amnesty for all illegal workers in the country.

Reality: All illegals are welcome as long as they work for companies that donate to the DNC. If your company donates to GOP groups you will be prosecuted and hunted down.

Tyranny by selective law enforcement once again brought to you by the DNC.

Ban Infosys and others like them from the USA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275001)

As a (former) H1B myself this truly pisses me off to no end. I came here for my undergrad for a quality education (dropped close to 80K$ being an international student) at a top university and graduated with enviable grades and I had to struggle to find a job simply because companies like Infosys illegally place thousands of workers on jobs that otherwise people like myself or US citizens/residents would be doing.

H1B (rightfully) evokes negative feeling in the American populace for this exact reason. Companies like Infosys thru their illegal staffing practices are responsible for formulating the image of an H1B the broken english speaking trained monkey who can type and is willing to work for pennies on the dollar with his head down. I really hope that in the coming years this image changes coz there are thousands of us who come here to get a world class education (at a premium cost) and expect to make a living here.

Peace.

Re:Ban Infosys and others like them from the USA (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45275525)

Change the law to limit the number of H-1B visas that a company may sponsor to not more than 10% of their worker base in the same field (e.g. percentage is applied to each type of job). Then limit the B-1 visas to a maximum of 63 days within the past 365 days (plus 2 travel days for each entry/exit). And while at it, allow any H-1B holder (the person) to change employer when they or the employer is willing to pay all the visa costs to the sponsor that paid them.

H1B != B-1 (4, Informative)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#45275009)

I think people are confusing H1B (which have their own problems), with the B-1 visas that Infosys was caught abusing...

H1B are for employing people that live HERE to work HERE and are paid at a level to live HERE. B-1 visa are for people that live THERE, but are temporarily working HERE, but are paid to live THERE (which is generally much lower). For example, a person employed with the same company but lives say in India, that needs to come to the US to attend a meeting, or conference, or perhaps for a couple months for training or maybe even negotiate a contract in person would need a B-1 to get into the country (you technically can't do any of these things on a tourist visa).

The duration of an H1B is 3 years (extendable to 6 years), the duration of a B-1 is typically 6 months (extendable to 1 year). Think of the B-1 as a visitor visa to do technical visiting (there is a separate P-visa for an athlete or artist to make a performance in the US for money which is another type of visa).

The abuse that Infosys was doing is that they were submitting manufactured documentation for the B-1 that they were coming to the US to attend training, meetings or conference, but employing B-1 visa folks to work on long term projects. That is a big NO-NO because then you can paying foreign wages (instead of H1B equivalent wages) to people work on projects even though they are here, undercutting everyone (including H1Bs).

Infosys could have gotten the "death-sentence" (which some companies have gotten) which is no B-1 visas for a year, but they are of course big enough to avoid that and only need to pay $35M. This slap on the wrist is what to get upset about, not tangle this up with the separate H1B discussion. At least H1Bs are supposed to get paid a prevailing wage and their numbers are supposed to be limited, so at least on paper, it's reasonable. There are none of the similar statutory limitations on a B-1, so when you are abusing it, you are really going to town.

It's migra! It's migra! (2)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#45275315)

I can just imagine someone screaming that and suddenly all the programmers running out of their cubicles in panic!

Make all contract work illegal (1, Troll)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45275681)

So many problems will be addressed by that.

You're doing it wrong (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#45275695)

These were short term visas. Require these 'visitors' sponsors to delivery proof of exit (plane tickets, etc) or deliver the 'visitors' to INS for deportation for overstaying. Failure by the sponsor results in daily fines to cover 3x costs of arrest and deportation, and equal punitive damages. Too many and these sponsors lose their privilege to use these visas, fire at least 3 years.

And after, say, 7 days overstay, fine the sponsors client where the visitor was working, which is registered in advance.

RBC in Canada (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45275853)

Royal Bank of Canada did the same shit here in Toronto. Fired a bunch of tenured people "after" they trained their own replacements without knowing it. Bloody disgusting.

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