India, Jan. 13 -- The United States has announced the finalisation of a rule that will force American employers to offer foreign workers on H-1B and similar visa programmes the same, or higher, wages as their local counterparts.

The change announced on Tuesday is intended to prevent employers from hiring low-cost foreign workers to replace Americans, which has been a key criticism of the foreign workers programme.

India, which accounts for upwards of 70% of the annual 85,000 H-1B visas granted, is a major source of such foreign workers.

Labour secretary Eugene Scalia said these measures will strengthen wage protections, address "abuses in visa programmes, and protect American workers from being undercut by cheaper foreign labour".