The lawsuit’s claims were inflammatory: that Apple “schemed” and “conspired” with controversial Indian outsourcing firm Infosys to bring trainers into the U.S. in an illegal and fraudulent maneuver to get around the expense and difficulty of obtaining H-1B visas.
On Tuesday, Apple and Infosys scored a victory. Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court in San Jose dismissed the lawsuit, filed in 2016 by Carl Krawitt, a former Apple contractor employed by Infosys. But Koh left open the opportunity for Krawitt to keep the suit alive, granting him leave to amend his complaint with additional facts.
At the heart of the whistle-blower lawsuit’s claims were visas obtained by Apple and Infosys for two Indian citizens who were brought to the U.S. to provide training at the Cupertino iPhone giant, for the engineering team behind online sales. Krawitt claimed the two companies “systematically” created fraudulent documents and misrepresented the type of work the trainers would do, in order to bring them in under B-1 visas — intended for temporary business visitors — instead of the more expensive, harder-to-get H-1B visa, which is intended for jobs requiring specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Krawitt, who said in the lawsuit that he started working for Infosys at Apple in 2014, further claimed that the work of the two trainers could have been performed by American citizens. He alleged that when he told a senior Infosys manager that Infosys and Apple were acting illegally in seeking the B-1 visas, he was threatened with firing unless he kept quiet.
Apple and Infosys did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the claims in the lawsuit, or Koh’s dismissal.
Apple in June asked Koh to toss out the case, arguing in a court filing that Krawitt’s claims were premised on a misunderstanding of U.S. immigration laws, “which permit non-immigrants to enter the United States on B-1 visas for ‘business’ that is incidental to international commerce.”
Apple noted that it had contracted with Infosys for more than $100 million in services in 2014 alone.
The H-1B visa has become a flashpoint in the U.S. immigration debate, with tech companies lobbying heavily for an expansion of the annual 85,000 cap on new visas, and critics pointing to reported abuses and claiming companies, including outsourcers such as Infosys, use it to replace American workers with cheaper, foreign labor.
By ETHAN BARON for THE MERCURY NEWS
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