Rep. Andy Harris calling for additional H2B visas to be released

MARYLAND – Congressman Andy Harris says he’s hoping the Biden administration will release more H2B worker visas before it’s too late. “We have about four people applying for every visa that will be issued. It was way oversubscribed this year. The economy is picking back up and we need temporary workers. We can’t find American workers to fill all the jobs,” he said.

Rep. Harris says the fierce competition for those visas could put a strain on the local seafood and tourism industries. “It’s not just the seafood industry. The tourism industry in Ocean City is very dependent on this. The amusement industry uses H2B visas as well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Harris says that he and other lawmakers are working to put together a bipartisan coalition to address this recurring issue. He says that’s necessary because a key liaison that helped them secure extra visas in the past is no longer in office. “When Senator [Barbara Ann] Mikulski was representing Maryland in the Senate and sat on the Appropriations Committee, we were able to work with her to get a returning worker exemption into the law,” said Rep. Harris. “Ever since she left, we just haven’t been able to build the coalition we need on the Senate side.”

The Biden administration is expected to release any additional visas in March or April. Rep. Harris says while the pandemic has taught many industries how to do more with less help, this is an issue that needs a long term solution. “There are many uses for them on the Lower Eastern Shore. A lot of businesses, over the past few years, have gotten used to doing with fewer. But, we shouldn’t do that. We need to grow the economy and make sure our economy is the strongest possible. To do that, we need additional visas,” he said.

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