In what could be seen as a major blow to Indian IT professionals, the US Congress has prohibited banks and firms receiving federal bailout money from hiring people on H-1B visas in place of Americans laid off by them due to the economic meltdown.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association, which had earlier opposed the measure, on Friday described it as "disappointing". It argued that this would prove to be counterproductive as it prevents the US companies to hire the best available global talent.
The H1-B has mostly benefitted Indian techies.
The measure forms part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly known as the stimulus bill. The Act finally passed by the Congress -– both the House of Representative and the Senate -– makes a provision of USD 787 billion for reviving the battered US economy.
As the banks have announced mass layoffs, the measure would effectively place a moratorium on the H-1B visa programme, Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement.
The Independent Senator from Vermont, along with the Republican Senator from Iowa, Charles Grassley, moved such a proposal in the Senate as an amendment to the stimulus bill.
The measure, as finally approved by the Congress, would require the bailed-out banks to hire only Americans for two years unless they could prove they were not replacing laid-off Americans with guest workers, Sanders said.