L&T Technology Services fined $10 mn in B-1 visa controversy

L&T Technology Services (LTTS), a leading IT services company based in India, has reached a settlement agreement to pay $9.928 million, following allegations of fraud related to underpayment of visa fees owed to the US in violation of the False Claims Act.
L&T Technology ServicesAccording to a release by the Attorney’s Office District of South Carolina, between 2014 and 2019, L&T Technology Services underpaid visa fees by acquiring less expensive B-1 visas, instead of pricier H-1B visas, at its Edison, New Jersey offices.

The investigation leading to the settlement was initiated following the filing of a whistleblower complaint in the US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent In Charge of HSI Charlotte, has stated this settlement is a clear message to those attempting to defraud the US government and exploit the nation’s laws that they will be held accountable.

L&T Technology Services is a subsidiary of Larsen & Toubro, and provides IT services and personnel to US-based companies. Majority of its personnel are foreign nationals who require visas to legally enter or stay in the US.

The release notes that while B-1 visas do not permit paid labor in the US. Between 2014 and 2019, visa fees for B-1 visas ranged between approximately $200 to $300, with no limit on the number of visas that could be issued.

On the other hand, H-1B visas allow foreign nationals to perform paid labor while in the country, but with a fee range of approximately $4,000 to $6,000, and are limited to foreign nationals who have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher in an occupation requiring specialized knowledge.

Chris Hileman, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of State, Office of Inspector General, said that the settlement is a success in deterring companies from evading and violating the laws and regulations that govern the non-immigrant visa programs managed by the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.

L&T Technology Services has cooperated with the US authorities in this matter and has implemented significant measures to ensure compliance with US visa laws.

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