Blocking extensions in H-1B visas would be “bad policy” and contradicts the goals of the merit-based immigration system, the United States Chamber of Commerce said on Saturday.

“It would be tremendously bad policy to tell highly skilled individuals, who are applying for permanent residency and have been working in the US for several years, that they are no longer welcome,” a spokesperson said, according to PTI. “This policy would harm American business, our economy, and the country.”

Latest speculations about an imminent crackdown are based on a report by US website McClatchy DC Bureau on December 31, which claimed that the Department of Homeland Security was considering new regulations to prevent H-1B visa extensions.

Unidentified officials told the website that a draft proposal, if implemented, could stop hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from keeping their visas beyond six years even if their green card applications are pending.

The H-1B visa programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals. Green cards refer to a permanent resident status in the US, and H-1B visa holders can get their stay extended beyond two three-year terms if their green card application is under process.

President Donald Trump’s administration has enforced changes in visa rules and is believed to be mulling over bringing in more, in line with his “Buy American, Hire American” policy.

Indians account for the maximum number of H-1B visas-holders – the non-immigrant permits that allow companies in the US to employ foreign workers in occupations that need specialised skills. IT firms rely heavily on this work visa to hire employees from overseas every year.