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Countries such as India and China should have increased numbers of visas issued for high-tech workers seeking vacant jobs within companies starved for those types of workers, according to a new bill introduced Thursday by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

The bill, HR3012, does not change the overall cap on such visas, however.

That cap on employment-based visas is set at 140,000 by the State Department and the number of those visas can't exceed 7 percent of that total for each nation.

Under the bill's provisions, the employment-based visas would be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Chaffetz said it doesn't make sense to have countries like China and India bumping up against that ceiling while other countries like Zambia and Finland don't approach their annual total.

"There aren't winners and losers," Chaffetz said. "I'd say American business is the winner. They want the best people and they don't care where they come from."

It's co-sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who is also the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Chaffetz said that clout likely would help it get on a quicker track to an eventual floor vote.

Backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of high-tech companies, the measure is "chipping away toward legal immigration reform," said Chaffetz.

Marty Carpenter, spokesman for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, said the group hasn't taken an official position on the bill but "we support anything that can help business get the workers it needs with less government red tape."

Paul Robbio, spokesman for the nonprofit, anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, said it hasn't taken a position on the bill either — though he said members are generally supportive of immigration reform bills that don't raise existing immigration caps.

The Chaffetz bill also has a provision in it to relax family-based visa limits by country.

"I really do believe we need to fix legal immigration," Chaffetz said. "If we were able to fix legal immigration, we would be able so solve so many of our problems."

dmontero@sltrib.comTwitter: @davemontero