Information Technology firm and high-tech industry powerhouse, Infosys, is being accused of bringing low-paid foreign wokers to the U.S. illegally, CBS News reported.
The allegations come from Jay Palmer, a principal consultant at Infosys. According to Palmer, Infosys engaged in systematic practice of visa fraud. Palmer's charges are the center of a federal probe.
Palmer said the first thing that caught his attention was an employee that had been in the U.S. from India several times before.
"He came up to me and he was literally in tears," Palmer told CBS News. "He told me he was over here illegally and he didn't wanna be here. He was worried that he would get caught."
Palmer said he began digging into how and why Infosys seemed to be bringing in large numbers of workers from its corporate headquarters in Bangalore, India, into the U.S.
Palmer said at first, most came over on H-1B visas. These visas are for people with specialized talents or a level of technical ability that can't be found among American workers.
When asked if all the people had some special expertise that couldn't be found in the U.S., Palmer said, "Absolutely not. Not even close. Many of them is what we call freshers. People that would just come over, whoever they could get to come over. Whoever got accepted for a visa."
"Many of the people brought in, in fact, didn't know what they were doing at all," Palmer said. "There was not a project or program that I was involved in that we did not remove somebody because they had no knowledge of what they were doing," he said.
Palmer says that Infosys' motive to bring in foreign workers was purely for profit.
Palmer says the Indian workers on his team were paid substantially less than an American would have made in the same job.
When the U.S. State Department began to limit the number of H-1B visas, Palmer said Infosys began using another type of visa, the B-1. The B-1 is meant for employees who are traveling to consult with associates, attend training or a convention. But Palmer said the employees were brought in not for meetings, but for full-time jobs.
Federal officials say Infosys employees have 6,000 B-1 visas good for 10 years.
And Palmer said the B-1 workers never paid U.S. taxes because they received their salaries from India.
Palmer said top company executives not only knew of the alleged fraud, but wanted to expand on it to increase profits. Palmer said during a 2010 meeting at Infosys' corporate headquarters in Bangalore the practice was discussed with a group of executives, including a senior vice president.
Palmer heard Infosys executives say "Americans are stupid" and according to Palmer, they were referring to the law and getting around the system. Palmer said it was totally easy to skirt the law.
Palmer said others at Infosys discussed the matter with him. And one of those people was Palmer's friend and Infosys project manager, Marti Harrington.
Harrington told CBS News, "I realize that there were a few times where they were really pushing me, they, Infosys, was really pushing me to get the client to agree to having more people onshore. They were still getting more money because they were paying these folks from India so little."
When Harrington learned that the B-1 visa specifically prohibited employment here, she checked the visa status of some of her own team members.
Harrington said, "And then I realize that we had people here, we being, you know, employees in Infosys - had people here that were in the States on B-1 visas that were working. You know, they weren't here to attend training or, you know, to attend a conference. They were here working on a project."
According to Palmer, telling documents come from an internal Infosys website. One document appears to be a "do's and don'ts" list that gives instructions on how to get B-1 visa requests by the U.S. State Department, telling managers not to mention things like work or employment on their applications or in interviews with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents.
When CBS News senior correspondent John Miller asked Palmer what he thinks will happen to him and his future when this is all over. Palmer responded, "I don't know. You know, it's not about me. This story is about displaced American workers and about companies out for greed."
Infosys is one of the biggest consulting firms in the world with more than $6 billion in revenues last year alone, and 145,000 employees in 32 countries. But the bulk of its business comes from the U.S., re-engineering the computer systems of some of the biggest names in corporate America.
Palmer's civil suit against Infosys is scheduled to go to trial this summer in Alabama.
According to CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, who has been working on this case for months, suspects that there are many other companies practicing visa fraud. Miller even referenced a recent lawsuit against a different company in New Jersey alleging similar practices of visa fraud and abuse.
Read the story in its entirety at CBS News.
Originally Published: Thu, Apr 12th 2012 @ 4:34pm EDT