A US judge has allegedly refused to dismiss a complaint alleging that Cognizant Technology Solutions brought workers to the US using the business or intracompany visas rather than the more expensive H-1B work permits, resulting in a visa trial. According to sources, former assistant vice president Jean-Claude Franchitti of the Teaneck, New Jersey-based firm filed the complaint under the False Claims Act (FCA). Cognizant may have underpaid visa expenses for its international employees, according to the suit.
Cognizant has a duty to pay the proper cost for the benefits connected with its requested visa, according to United States District Judge Peter G Sheridan of the District of New Jersey, who stated last week. The business argued that the FCA does not apply to papers and statements made under the United States Internal Revenue Code. “By paying for L-1 and B-1 visas but directing its employees to perform work that required the more expensive H-1B visa, Cognizant decreased — and made false statements material to — its obligation to pay money to the government,” the financial daily quoted the judge as saying in its order.
The judge wrote, “The internal email correspondence submitted by Franchitti is plausibly sufficient to allege that Cognizant committed this violation knowingly. Finally, Cognizant’s false statements are material because if it accurately represented the nature of its employees’ work, its visa applications would likely have been rejected or its employees’ visas revoked, consistent with USCIS policy and practice.”
The immigration agency for the United States is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The H-1B work permit, which is issued for specialized skills and is frequently used by computer programmers, the L-1 visas, which are issued for intra-company transfers of employees for a specific period, and the B-1 or business visas, which are issued to attend conferences, negotiate contracts, and participate in training are the three types of visas that Cognizant obtains for its foreign employees. Cognizant had not broken any tax rules, according to Judge Sheridan, however, it could have broken immigration regulations.
“In sum, because Franchitti’s claims concern a violation of the immigration — not tax — laws, and because the secretary of labor — not the IRS — is the authority tasked with enforcing the prevailing wage provision, the tax bar does not apply here,” the Judge said.
He, on the other hand, dismissed Franchitti’s accusations that the firm had given the government misleading information in order to acquire the limited visas.
Ashish K Singh, Partner at Capstone Legal said and quoted in the publication, “The Court has struck off the portions of the claim in which Franchitti alleged that Cognizant violated the law by knowingly submitting false documentation for visa applications, including fraudulent invitation letters and job descriptions. This comes as a major relief to Cognizant. Given the nature of this lawsuit, this is a major win for the company.”
Other IT services outsourcers, such as TCS and Infosys, use the same approach as Cognizant. They have a big workforce in countries like India, and they use that workforce to work on projects in the US by filing for the proper visa category.