Misuse of B-1 Visa?

Recently, in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, Senator Grassley (R-IA) expressed concerns over allegations of misuse of the B-1 business visitor visa and requested “a thorough review” of the B-1 in lieu of the H-1B provisions in the Foreign Affairs Manual.

This letter was triggered because of a complaint filed by an employee of Infosys Technologies, Inc. (Infosys) alleging that his employer was “sending lower level and unskilled foreigners to the United States to work in full time positions at Infosys’ customer sites in direct violation of immigration laws.”  The employee was apparently describing ways that Infosys was using to get around the H-1B visa program to bring in low-skilled and low-wage earners resulting in visa fraud against the US government.

The employee’s complaint provided details about how Infosys India was using the B-1 business visitor program to get around H-1B program requirements.  The employee alleged that Infosys was using the B-1 program on the ground that the foreign employees were coming into the US to attend meetings.  The employee alleged that in reality, these employees were actually working for a US company and earning a wage that was below the prevailing wage that is required by the H-1B regulations.

Senator Grassley urged Secretary of State and Department of Homeland Security to investigate and get to the bottom of the situation. He requested information about how the B-1 program is currently being used by US employers and processed by consular officers. He requested several items, including, how the Department of State verifies an employer’s claim that a B-1 visa holder is indeed attending a meeting in the US. Senator Grassley was also interested in finding out what actions, if any, against employers who abuse the B-1 program. More importantly, Senator Grassley has requested the legal basis for the State departments policy known as “B-1 in lieu of H-1B”. Senator Grassley was proposing that changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual be considered so that this means of entry is not abused. Grassley went on in his letter to ascertain whether the Department would consider eliminating this provision altogether.

Given the concerns expressed by Senator Grassley we are not surprised to note that increasingly the US Consulate in India has been rejecting the B-1 applications at an alarming rate.  It is just unfortunate that the misuse of the process by one or two companies has resulted in a proposed elimination of the provision which is very critical for companies that are competing in the global marketplace.