B-1 Business Visitor Visa, Stretching the Limits

Categories: Immigration Lawyer Blog San Diego

A business visitor visa allows a person to come over for a variety of purposes such as attending a conference, attending meetings, workshops, or perform limited services for a foreign company.

It is the potential abuse of the last category that has prompted a federal investigation of Infosys Technologies. The authorities believe Infosys Technologies may be stretching the bounds of the business visitor visa too far. Instead of only having its Indian employees come over on a short term limited basis, the federal government suspects some of Infosys Technologies’ employees on B-1 visas perform longer term work assignments.

Longer term assignments are not permitted under the B-1 category. Instead Infosys should have brought these employees over on a L-1 visa to transfer certain employees within their company or a H-1B visa.

USCIS’ crackdown on computer consulting companies has created difficulties and higher costs for companies such as Infosys Technologies to obtain the H-1B and L-1 visas it previously used to bring over employees from India.

USCIS as part of its infamous Neufeld memo released in January of 2010, now requires computer consultants to have an itinerary for the entire length of their visa. Sometimes this is just not practical for a company that wishes to use consultants on a series of short term assignments

Congress passed a bill in October targeting Infosys Technologies, Wipro, and a few other computer consulting firms heavily dependent on H-1B and L-1 visas. The law requires any company with more than 50 employees and has more than 50% of their employees on an H-1B visa or L-1 visa to pay an additional $2000 per H-1B visa and $2250 per L-1 visa. Infosys Technologies reports that 10,100 of its 15,500 American employees are on H-1B visas.

It appears that one or more internal whistle blowers informed the authorities that Infosys Technologies was abusing the B-1 visitor visa when these Indian employees remained on longer term assignments. The company reports that less than 2% of its employees in the U.S. are on B-1 visas.

More details are available in the following NY Times Article