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It Could Get a Lot Tougher for Indian Companies Doing Business in the U.S.

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Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest outsourcing company, secured 8,333 H-1B visas in 2015, topping the list.Photograph by Indranil Mukherjee — AFP via Getty Images

Bipartisan legislation has been put forth that would decrease the number of workers coming to the U.S. with H-1B visas, otherwise known as skilled-worker permits.

The bill was introduced by Republican Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, who is also chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Democratic Illinois senator Dick Durbin. If passed, all U.S. companies looking to hire workers with H-1Bs would be required to first search for a U.S. citizen to fill the position. Companies of more than 50 people in which over half of the workforce in made up of H-1B and L-1 visa holders would be banned from hiring any new workers with H-1Bs. (L-1 visas allow for the relocation of specialized workers to U.S.-based departments of international companies)

Companies would be monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor and non-compliance would result in a penalty. The Wall Street Journal reports that India’s outsourcing firms, and subsequently the country’s economy, have already been facing challenges because of cloud computing. This bill would add to their troubles.

Senators Grassley and Durbin explained the necessity of this bill in a statement. “The H1-B visa program was never meant to replace qualified American workers, but it was instead intended as a means to fill gaps in highly specialized areas of employment that cannot be filled by Americans. The abuse of the system is real,” Grassley said, adding that “There’s a sense of urgency here for Americans who are losing their jobs to lesser skilled workers who are coming in at lower wages on a visa program that has gotten away from its original intent.”