Shares of Indian information technology firms sank during Tuesday’s mid-afternoon trading session after reports said a Bill had been introduced in the United States House of Representatives, which proposes major changes to the H-1B visa. The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders. The Bill proposes hiking the minimum wage for H-1B visa holders from $60,000 (Rs 40.7 lakh) to $130,000 (Rs 88 lakh), reported PTI.

The Bombay Stock Exchange IT index slumped 280 points to 9,598 and the Nifty IT index fell 3.13% to 9,852 at 3.20 pm. Shares of Tech Mahindra and Tata Consultancy Services also dropped by 4.40% to Rs 450.95 and 4.25% to Rs 2,235, respectively. HCL Technologies went down by 3.36% to Rs 811.45 while Infosys and Wipro also traded in the red. Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, told IANS, “Every 10% hike in H-1B can hurt earnings by nearly 10% to 12% of IT companies.”

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 makes it much more expensive for IT companies to hire people from outside the US without justifying why they have not employed Americans. The Bill was introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren. “My legislation refocuses the H-1B programme to its original intent – to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the US workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” he added.

The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said it had conveyed India’s interests and concerns on the visa issue to the US “at senior levels”. Close to 3,50,000 Indian engineers are on H-1B visas in the US, reported Economic Times. If these new rules are brought in, Indian and US companies like Cognizant, IBM and others will be among those affected.