BENGALURU: Infosys chartered a flight to bring back 76 employees and their families — a total of 206 people — from the US. These are employees whose visas have expired or are nearing expiry.
A Qatar Airways flight with the employees left from San Francisco to touch down in Bengaluru on Monday morning. Most of the employees were on H-1Bs and some on L-1s. Some of them were seeking extensions of their statuses, but immigration lawyers told TOI that extension requests are still paper-based and with the pandemic forcing people to work remotely, employees stranded aren’t getting any relief. An email sent to Infosys did not elicit a response.
Infosys associate vice-president Sanjeev Bode in a LinkedIn post said, “Some of the Infosys employees were stranded in the US because of their visa expiration. All international flights were suspended because of the pandemic. Infosys came to their rescue. The company booked a chartered flight exclusively for over 200 employees and families from the US to India. At the time of writing, the flight has landed safely in Bengaluru, bringing an end to weeks of dilemma related to the uncertain situation.”
Many employees took to social media to laud the company’s gesture and the management’s efforts to prioritise safety of employees. Nasscom had requested US authorities for a 90-day grace period for professionals to depart the US following the expiration of their H-1B/L-1 visas. But there’s been no change so far.
Infosys has 17,709 employees in the Americas. Less than 50% of the US employees are on H-1Bs and L-1s. H-1B visas allow employees to remain in the US for up to six years as specialty occupation professionals. L-1 visas are used for intra-company transfers, and allow employees to stay for up to five years.
This is not the first time Infosys has used chartered flights for employees. During the Bhubaneswar floods, it had chartered a flight to take over 500 employees critical to their projects to its other centres, including Bengaluru, to avoid disruptions to clients.