New bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
It takes aim at two popular work visa programs used in the tech and the business world.
Called the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, the legislation is identical to the bill reintroduced by Senators Chuck Grassley-R and Dick Durbin-D in late January.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
In an op-ed eminent Indian-American legal luminary Ved Nanda had warned the Trump administration last week that any curb on H-1B visas would result in flight of talented Indians from the US.
The proposed bill will also require employers to make a “good faith effort” to recruit American workers over foreigners, as well as give the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor more authority to investigate fraud and abuse.
The proposal creates new restrictions for companies that have more than 50 employees. Under the new rules, they would not be able to hire more H-1B employees if 50% of their employees are already on H-1B and L-1s.
Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California and one of cosponsors, told CNNTech that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the legislation passing, given the coalition behind it. As an Indian American, he stressed that the bill is not anti-Indian, but is rather meant to restore the original intent of the programs.
“There’s a mood in the nation that wants to fix abuse,” he said.
U.S. immigration data shows that 70% of all H-1B applications come from Indians.