Monday, August 13, 2012

Should CIO's worry over a visa fraud trial? Musing on Immigration, visas and Offshoring

Last week I was musing about Indian Outsourcing firms hiring "thousands" in U.S. I briefly touched on the visa angle in the post. Continuing the thread, there was an interesting blog post by, Joel Schectman on Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal titled "Infosys Visa Fraud Trial Should Leave CIOs 'Worried'" The blog states
"The practice of improperly using business travel visas is common for outsourcers that send workers to client sites, said Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS, an outsourcing research firm. The H1B work visa–the appropriate document for longer-term onsite work–costs companies thousands of dollars per employee and the federal government has reduced their availability in recent years. "Outsourcers are trying to get staff to work an engagement as quickly as possible and they will work the system as much as possible," Fersht said."

A few days after that Phil Fersht posted a viewpoint (perhaps clarifying his quote) "Give Infosys a break" stating
"Forgive me if I am wrong, but if an India-based expert visits a US client temporarily to support a contract process or consult on getting an onsite-offshore project working, then there really ain’t too much wrong with using said visa for said purpose."

Not surprisingly, Don Tennant who has blogged extensively on the "Infosys visa issue" had a viewpoint on this "Who Will Infosys Throw Under the Bus in Visa Fraud Case?"


Besides the sensational titles, the blog posts are perhaps a case of the same old wine in new bottles.

There are new issues/risks that a CIOs have to ponder over. Sure, CIO’s or their proxies sometimes have to sign off on invitation letters - for staffers of sourcing vendors - which are attached to visa applications. And if a vendor is indeed found culpable of systematic fraud, one would have to really dig deeper to research whether the person/s signing the invitation letters did so in good faith or was equally culpable.

Bottomline: what’s new here? Such letters have been required by immigration authorities for as long as business and work visas have been in vogue. And such requirements for invitation letters and documentation is not unique to US visa applications alone. Most western governments that have stringent work-visa policies require similar support letters and documents.

(footnote: none of what is stated above is legal opinion…. Just simple common sense!)