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Biz could be hit if US restricts visa programme: Infy

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Biz could be hit if US restricts visa programme: Infy

Facing lawsuit by a former employee, Infosys Technologies has said its business could be adversely affected if the US decides to restrict the visa programme as a fallout of the case.

Earlier this year, Infosys employee Jack Palmer had filed a lawsuit alleging that he was asked by the company to sign on documents which said workers were heading to the US to have meetings rather than to work there.

He alleged that this was done to 'creatively' overcome H1-B visa caps.

Following his refusal to sign the documents, Palmer alleged that he was threatened and harassed.

"In the event that the US government undertakes any actions which limit the B-1 business visa programme or other visa programme that we utilise, this could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations," Infosys said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A US senator submitted a letter to US Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security, requesting that their respective departments review the B-1 business visa programme and investigate the manner in which it is being utilised by companies, including Infosys.

B-1 business visas are intended for short-term uses, such as consulting with business associates, attending business conventions or negotiating contracts.

Infosys said legislation in certain countries, including the US and the UK, could restrict outsourcing work to Infosys or limit its ability to send employees to the client sites.

"Recently, some countries and organisations have expressed concerns about a perceived association between offshore outsourcing and the loss of jobs.

"...it is possible that there could be a change in the existing laws or the enactment of new legislation restricting offshore outsourcing or imposing restrictions on the deployment of, and regulating the wages of, work visa holders at client locations, which may adversely impact our ability to do business in the jurisdictions in which we operate, especially with governmental entities," the company said.

As of March 31, 2011, about 10,100 employees (not including Infosys BPO employees or employees of its wholly owned subsidiaries) held H-1B visas, which allow people to remain in the US for up to six years.

Another 2,200 people held L-1 visas (not including Infosys BPO employees or employees of its wholly owned subsidiaries), which allow employees to stay in the US only temporarily.

Infosys said uncertainty of working visa availability in US results in disparate expenses from quarter to quarter. It said, for instance, that the company incurred USD 13.3 million in costs for visas in the three months ended September 30, 2010, as against USD 7.7 million in the three months ended March 31, 2011.



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