The company that is a target in a federal probe on its use of visas, Infosys, says it is assuring customers that the government investigation, despite its unknown outcome, will not impact its business.
It is telling customers that its use of the B-1 visa, a business visitor visa that has been the subject of the probe, is used by less than 2% of its workforce in the U.S. at any given time.
But analysts are telling a different story to their clients that use offshore services. They are warning of risks, some of which are specific to Infosys and other risks that are broadly affecting an industry that relies on visa-holding workers.
Infosys has been notifying investors of its legal situation in SEC filings. Last month it announced that "we and certain of our employees are targets of the investigation" following a meeting with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern District of Texas.
That investigation was triggered by a lawsuit from a former employee, Jay Palmer, which has been getting national attention. He is claiming harassment, including death threats, after refusing to help the company get B-1 visas.
Infosys' most recent SEC filing prompted Stephanie Moore of Forrester Research to recommend that customers move proactively to protect themselves.
Moore said Infosys' visa issues are an increasing concern with her clients, and she outlined specific recommendations for them to take in response. They include asking for documentation about the visa status of Infosys' on-site employees, and having alternative suppliers in the event of "possible disruption," she wrote in a blog post.
Infosys' chief marketing officer, Paul Gottsegen, disputes Moore's assertion that Infosys clients are worried, saying it "is very inconsistent to what we hear as we speak to clients."
Gottsegen said the company is reaching out to its customers, "and they are assured that they will continue to get full great that they've had from Infosys for years."
Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S. The company didn't provide a breakdown of how many are on visas, but most of them are. Gottsegen said the company is hiring more permanent workers, including 1,200 U.S. workers last year, and many more this year. The company employs about 150,000 worldwide.
Infosys is telling customers that it didn't have a policy to misuse visas, and is denying the allegations made in Palmer's lawsuit.
David Rutchik, a partner at the outsourcing advisory firm PaceHarmon, said he sees a systemic issue in the outsourcing industry that goes beyond Infosys and includes any firm that relies heavily on visa-holding workers to deliver services.
"It is more and more difficult for any of these companies, Infosys or its competitors" to bring in visa-holding worker "in the numbers and with the ease that they previously have," Rutchik said.
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