At a time when a sustained period of unemployment is proving problematic for organisations all over the world, the news of charges faced by Infosys Technologies over tax and visa fraud has posed new questions about the way the outsourcing sector operates.
This week, Infosys employee Jack Palmer filed a case against the company, insisting that it was sending employees on B1 visas to work full time in the US, despite the fact that the visa is only meant for visitors who come for meetings, conferences and business negotiations.
Foreign nationals working in the US on temporary contracts generally require an H-1B visa, but Palmer alleges that following increased restrictions on H-1B visas in 2009, Infosys began sending employees on B-1 visas. These are issued to individuals visiting the country for short-term business reasons, such as to negotiate a contract or attend a conference, and prohibit full-time employment.
The benefits of doing this are obvious, as it would mean that organisations are able to get substantially higher work quality at lower rates.
What does all this mean for outsourcing in the UK? A recent initiative by the UK Government has made limiting the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country at any one time possible.
The government’s commitment to introducing an annual limit of 21,700 for those coming into the UK under the new immigration cap has seen many wonder how important these restrictions are for the advancement of technology and whether native workers are being displaced by immigrants. There has, to date, been no evidence that the recently implemented visa caps have had a negative effect on businesses or decreased innovation.
Perhaps this is something the US should look into? Dwindling immigration, especially India's competitive service sector labour, is plaguing the US. Immigration, and the ability to tap into a larger workforce, allows for innovation, and is the backbone of both the American and European economy.
Of course, it is an obvious point that anybody who abuses their outsourcing relationship in order to circumnavigate existing laws on immigration - perhaps with a view to achieving cost efficiencies - is destined to see their projects fail.
This also highlights the importance of strong relationships between end-users and suppliers. The key to a successful working relationship within any outsourcing activity is that any scepticism relating to requirements and responsibilities must be worked through together, with areas of responsibility for each part of the process clearly defined in order to bring about maximum benefit for both parties.
Partnerships and collaboration can become an integral part of developing a future, an innovative strategy, as successful outsourcing partnerships are typically driven through entering into long-term, lasting contracts.
End users and suppliers are also far more likely to result in a successful outsourcing relationship when communication is strong, meaning in turn that any issues can be dealt with quickly and effectively. Innovation and new ways of working can be established far more easily between two parties who communicate well with each other - increasing the chances of improving the efficiency of operations in the process.
Innovation is an important tool to become stronger and enhance our revenue productivity
The integrity of outsourcing companies in applying for visas is becoming even more important and the policy regarding work visas in the UK is getting even tighter. As a result, companies that maintain the highest level of integrity in approaching the visa issue will likely benefit in the long run.
Outsourcing is not simply cheap foreign labour; it is sourcing the right skills for the job, which, with the UK’s technology skills deficit, could be a godsend to many UK firms.