Companies & Sectors
Infosys denies misusing US B-1 visas; says it has handled complaints in the matter according to the law

The country’s No.2 software services company faces a lawsuit in the US, filed by a former employee, who has alleged that the company misused B-1 visas to send unskilled employees to do the work of skilled individuals

Infosys Ltd, the country's second largest software services company, with 1,33,560 employees as of March 2011, has said that it has handled all complaints filed by Jack (Jay ) Palmer in complete accordance with its published procedures for whistleblower complaints and in compliance with the law. Mr Palmer, a former employee of Infosys, had filed a lawsuit against the company in the US, alleging a number of misdeeds associated with the company's work for clients in that country.

In an email to Moneylife, Infosys said, "Since filing a lawsuit against the company, Mr Palmer has presented himself as a whistleblower that has been punished and subjected to retaliation for coming forward with his allegations." So far, the company has not retaliated against Mr Palmer.    

In a written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Sub Committee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Mr Palmer alleged that Infosys was using US B-1 business visas to send Indian employees for software development, quality assurance and testing for its US-based clients. But the company has said, "Infosys did not have a practice of sending unskilled employees to the United States on B-1 visas to do the work expected of skilled individuals on H-1B visas. There is not, nor was there ever, a policy to use the B-1 visa program to circumvent the H-1B program."

"We take very seriously our obligations under the law and specifically our responsibilities to comply with the immigration laws and visa requirements in all the jurisdictions where we have clients. We have made changes in our policies regarding immigration and visa requirements and we will continue to improve such policies as necessary to maintain the absolute best practices for compliance," the company stated.

According to Mr Palmer's testimony on, Infosys published "dos" and "don'ts" for the invitation letters it began to require before initiating the process of applying for a B-1 visa for an employee. The "dos" and "don'ts" advised employees to avoid titles such as "programmer" or "analyst" in favour of titles such as "project leader" to indicate that the purpose of the visit was akin to "business discussions", "meetings" or "training" rather than "implementation", "testing", "consulting" or anything that "sounds like work".

However, the company said, the percentage of its employees using B-1 visas to travel to the US was miniscule at any given point of time. "All employees (using) B-1 visa (to) travel to the US involves, at any point in time, a fraction (less than 2%) of the total US travel by Infosys employees. This neither minimizes nor changes our commitment to best practices in our visa program or our commitment to comply, at all events, with the law and the visa requirements of the US," the company said.

Mr Palmer also alleged that Infosys employees travelling to the US on business visas were required to obtain debit cards and the company made direct payments in rupees from India to these debit cards. However, the company said due to the ongoing litigation, it cannot go into more details at this time.


Swiss banks info sharing to be effective in Sept: FM

"The process will be completed by September. Information will be shared from 1 April 2011, prospectively not retrospectively. No country has agreed to share information retrospectively," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee informed Parliament

New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the agreement signed with Switzerland for sharing banking information on demand is likely to come into force by September, reports PTI.

He said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha that he had signed the agreement with Switzerland for sharing banking information of Indians having accounts there during his earlier tenure as finance minister in UPA-I government.

He said the Swiss Parliament had ratified the agreement but as per rules of direct democracy prevalent in that country all cantons (states) have to ratify it.

"This process will be completed by September. Information will be shared from 1 April 2011, prospectively not retrospectively. No country has agreed to share information retrospectively," Mr Mukherjee said, adding once it comes into force, banking information will be exchanged between the two countries on demand.

Mr Mukherjee said India's Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with four sovereign entities, namely Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Isle of Man was already in force.

These are famous tax havens where black money of individuals from several countries has been parked.

India has also signed TIEA with Cayman Islands but it is yet to come into force.

The finance minister said India's Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with 80 countries was already in force while DTAA with Columbia, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Taiwan and Tanzania has been signed but is yet to come into force.

India has re-negotiated DTAA with Italy, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

"In last two years, India has negotiated 16 TIEAs, 18 new DTAAs and has also renegotiated 21 existing DTAAs. TIEA with Bahamas has been signed and has also entered into force. TIEA with Monaco has been negotiated. DTAAs with Republic of Columbia and Taiwan have been signed and are waiting to be entered into force," Mr Mukherjee said.

The finance minister claimed DTAAs help in the flow of investment and technology as it seeks to avoid double taxation.

"DTAAs and TIEAs help in countering the menace of tax evasion and black money stashed in foreign banks by helping in collection of information regarding tax evasion and foreign bank accounts. DTAAs also sometimes help in collection of taxes from assets located abroad. 27 out of 80 DTAAs contain such a provision for assistance in collection of taxes," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said TIEA is a concept created to deal with tax havens where banks are established which do not share information and act as 'sovereign entities'.

He informed the House that after 2008, and during the London and Pittsburgh summits, all countries-including Switzerland-which were not cooperating earlier in sharing banking information were asked to cooperate.

Mr Mukherjee said every country had its own detailed and elaborate procedure of entering into and ratifying international agreements.



Nagesh KiniFCA

6 years ago

Keeping the dates vague is deliberate!! It is quite intentional for obvious reasons of course.

Adi Daruwalla

6 years ago

Are the dates mentioned in the above article correct. When FM says prospectively, what happens to all the retrospective cases?? Sep means 2011 or 2012??

Nagesh KiniFCA

6 years ago

The Treaties/Agreements have been in place for long. For reasons best known to them not operationalized by the powers that be. Many big wig names would pop up.
Where is the guarantee that most will moved out. What they should seek is selectively, not a 'telephone book' as the Swiss put the last request.
The last list contained not the real ones but NRI/PIOs residing abroad and not under the scanner.A waste of time and effort - a wild goose chase.
Refer to ex-CCIT KVM Pai's intervension petition on Black Money being heard by the SC.

HP to hive off world’s largest PC business

Hewlett-Packard is also looking at buying UK software firm Autonomy for $11.70 billion.

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