Advanced analytics service provider MU Sigma has entered into an out of court settlement with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) and paid $2.5 million in fines for B1 visa fraud.
In a joint investigation conducted by US ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), it was found that the management consulting firm was circumventing US visa regulations by flying in Indian employees on a B1 visitor visa and misrepresenting the nature of their intended visit to the United States.
Mu Sigma, which has its US headquarter in Chicago, Illinois, operates in conjunction with its main delivery centre in Bangalore. The company was found to be employing B1 visitor visa holders under contract within the U.S.
Further, the Mu Sigma’s invitation letters for the B1 visa holder employees have falsified information about their nature of the visit to the US.
It even went to the extremes of instructing potential B1 business visitors and company handlers how to avoid detection by U.S consular and border officials.
However, the company’s shady tactics did not stop there.
According to a release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), investigators found out that Mu Sigma’s employees, who were illegally working there were not paid in the US at the standard wage rate their US counterparts get. Instead, the company only paid them in India at a substantially lower India-based wage rate. The company even forced its employees to sign bond contracts that unlawfully sought reimbursement of up to $10,000 of the H-1B visa costs if an employee ceased employment before an agreed-upon date.
The company used this unlawful tactic to inflate their profit margins and to be able to bid super low for contracts against US-based companies.
The investigation was started back in 2013 after a whistleblower, who was a Mu Sigma employee tipped off US ICE that Mu Sigma managers were violating US government’s H-1B visa regulations by illegally employing B1 visitor visa holders under contact.
This company was found to have incurred about 400 potential B1 visa violations and had issued more than 300 illegal visa bond contracts, during the defined period. Special agents also identified that at least 9 Mu Sigma senior executives and managers were actively participating in the wrongdoings.
On Aug 28, 2019, HSI’s reached a $2.5 million final global settlement with Mu Sigma for allegations of H1B and B1 visa abuse. Of the $2.5 million settlement, $1.6 million will satisfy the civil allegations, and $900,000 will satisfy the criminal allegations. In addition to the monetary compensation, the non-prosecution agreement includes a compliance and monitoring program.