An additional 20,000 H-2B nonagricultural worker visas are to be issued for the first half of fiscal year 2022 by the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor, making a potentially much larger workforce available for Alaska’s commercial fishing and tourism businesses.
H-2B visas allow American employers to temporarily hire rigorously screened nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor if American workers are not available.
Alaska’s seafood industry has been struggling for at least several years to fill many jobs, including those in seafood processing. Since the global novel coronavirus spread to Alaska in early 2020 filling those jobs has become even more challenging.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, both R-Alaska, hailed the announcement as particularly good news for the state’s robust fishing industry.
Filling seafood jobs with Alaskans continues to be their goal, “but a lack of workers would have catastrophic impacts for fishermen, processors and the fishing communities that reply on this sector being strong,” they said. “DHS’s announcement of additional visas is a tremendous step in the right direction.”