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'B-1 in Lieu of H-1B' Option Under Threat

Amid reports that U.S. consulates (particularly in India) are cracking down on B-1 visa applications when they suspect the person may be "working" in the U.S., the Department of State and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are reportedly investigating Infosys Technologies Ltd. with respect to allegations that it may be using short-term B-1 visas for employees who should be subjected to the more difficult H-1B visa process. Infosys said it "received a subpoena from a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The subpoena requires us to provide information to the grand jury regarding our sponsorships for, and uses of, B-1 business visas."

The probe comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by an Infosys employee alleging that Infosys has been misusing the B-1 visa program. After the lawsuit was filed, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter on April 14, 2011, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano demanding an investigation. The Department of State responded on May 13, and Sen. Grassley issued a comment on May 25. The Department of State said, "We are in the process of discussing with [the Department of Homeland Security] removing or substantially modifying the B-1 in lieu of H guidelines, which State first proposed eliminating in a 1993 Federal Register notice." The letter says such a change "requires DHS coordination and may require Federal Register notice, thus it may take some time before...any change is implemented."

Sen. Grassley's April 14 letter and May 25 comment are available at http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=34705. The Department of State's response is available at http://grassley.senate.gov/judiciary/upload/Immigration-05-24-11-response-from-State-using-B-1-to-circumvent-H-1B-doc.pdf.

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