US senators announce additional visas for Maryland’s seafood industry

As crab season begins, small seafood businesses in Maryland are getting extra help with the release of additional visas to hire temporary migrant workers.

U.S. senators from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, have announced that 35,000 temporary nonagricultural worker visas will soon be available. These are vital to the small businesses that make up Maryland’s crab and seafood industries.

“The Maryland seafood industry depends on this seasonal labor,” Van Hollen told WTOP. “This, we hope, will provide some really important relief to Maryland seafood.”

The release of more visas follows efforts from the two senators to press the Department of Homeland Security after only one of Maryland’s 10 crab processors was selected to receive visas for extra seasonal workers.

“Overall, this is a temporary fix. But these businesses should not have to depend on a lottery in order to ensure that they have the workers they need,” Van Hollen said.

He said they will continue to work toward a permanent solution to the problem.

“This is not a fix, and these businesses are still going to have to go through a lottery process. So we’re going to keep working.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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