Murkowski, Young Welcome additional H-2B visas

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Department of Homeland Security announced the availability of 20,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the first half of fiscal year 2022, Reaction from Alaska Congressman Don Young was positive.

    H-2B visas permit American employers to temporarily hire rigorously screened nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor if American workers are not available.

    A release from the congressman says the visas are critical to the survival of Alaska’s seafood industry.

    Congressman Don Young has maintained direct contact with DHS Secretary Mayorkas, working alongside his Delegation colleagues to find solutions for ongoing workforce shortages.

    “This is certainly a good news for the State of Alaska and our fisheries, but there is still much work ahead. It is vital that labor shortages do not further threaten our state’s ongoing economic recovery. Filling seafood jobs with Alaskans continues to be my goal, but a lack of workers would have catastrophic impacts for fishermen, processors, and the fishing communities that rely on this sector being strong. DHS’s announcement of additional visas is a tremendous step in the right direction. To make this visa expansion truly beneficial to our fisheries, we must keep up the momentum. I continue working with the Administration and Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to find a long-term solution to these ongoing challenges. I want to sincerely thank Secretary Mayorkas for staying in direct contact with me and taking action on this critical issue. As always, I will continue working with anyone – regardless of party – on policies that put Alaska first.”

    “The H-2B visa program has long played an important role for seasonal fishing and tourism businesses across Alaska. Our summer season is right around the corner, so it is particularly important that these industries have certainty to be able to plan and have a workforce in place. We are hoping for a tourism season on the rebound from COVID and the forecast for the Bristol Bay fisheries could break records. We need additional workers to supplement our local workforce,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I have made the release of additional visas a priority, urging the administration to recognize the unique situation we have in Alaska with seasonal industries, often in remote areas with limited workforce, and to address the gap in a timely manner. I want to thank Secretary Mayorkas, Secretary Walsh, and their teams for working with me to make this success possible.”

    This supplemental H-2B visa cap increase marks the first time in the program’s history that additional H-2B visas were made available in the first half of the year.

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