Administration Announces Additional H-2B Visas

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced 35,000 additional H-2B nonagricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year 2022, which will be available to employers for the summer 2022 season.

“With the tourism and fishing season right around the corner, and the economic fallout we have seen from COVID, it is vital to ensure Alaskans have the needed workers to supplement our local workforce. The federal H-2B program has been crucial in Alaska, allowing businesses to hire workers from other countries for positions and jobs they otherwise cannot fill, despite their best efforts to recruit Alaskans and Americans to fill their vacancies. I thank Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Walsh for understanding the importance and timeliness of this program, and working with me to release additional visas while we work on a permanent, long-term solution.”

“Today’s supplemental H-2B visa release announcement from DHS is of critical importance to the Alaska seafood industry. Maximum staffing in Alaska’s seafood processing plants in front of the enormous harvest predictions for Bristol Bay has a multiplying effect across the industry and regional economies. It will be important for DHS and DOL to facilitate this visa release such that visas can be issued prior to the biological timing and arrival of salmon. Senator Murkowski’s continued support and leadership within the Alaska seafood industry is greatly appreciated,” said Brian Gannon, Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for United Work and Travel.

“The additional 35,000 H-2B visas announced today for the second half of FY22 are a potential lifeline to some seafood processing companies in Alaska, who may otherwise be short-staffed this summer.  These visas were authorized only weeks ago in the consolidated appropriations bill, and we’re grateful for Senator Murkowski’s work and leadership leading up to today’s announcement.  It’s now vital that DHS and DOL follow through and facilitate guest worker arrival in Alaska before major salmon fisheries get underway,” said Chris Barrows, President of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association.

In January, DHS and DOL announced 20,000 additional H-2B visas, making the first release of supplemental visas in the first half of the fiscal year.

The federal H-2B program allows businesses to hire thoroughly screened workers from foreign countries for temporary positions that they have not been able to fill with local workers. It is frequently used to support Alaska’s seafood and tourism industries. This program allows for foreign workers to work in the United States for a season and return to their home countries. These visas are for U.S. employers that are facing irreparable harm without additional workers.

Related Issues: Alaska's Fisheries