In a potential boost to Maryland’s seafood industry, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it’s making an additional 22,000 H-2B visas available to non-immigrant, temporary workers.
The visas allow workers from outside the U.S. to enter the country and carry out work in industries that have seasonal jobs that are typically hard to fill.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan applauded the move, saying it was “critical to keeping our Maryland seafood processors open for business.”
Last month, as the blue crab season approached, Hogan called on federal officials to eliminate the visa lottery system and increase the number of visas issued.
According to a news release from Hogan’s office, 450 H-2B workers are needed to fill jobs at 23 of the state’s licensed crab-picking houses. The visas help support a $355 million seafood industry in the state.
Hogan wasn’t alone in welcoming the additional visas.
Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats, joined Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and issued a joint statement saying: “These businesses — most of them small and family-owned — are essential to the coastal economies in Virginia and Maryland, and so we appreciate that the administration listened to our requests and released these additional visas, ensuring that they will have the workforce they need as the processing season kicks up.”