May 21—The federal government will issue 22,000 additional visas that are used by workers from overseas who take seasonal jobs in the United States.
The Homeland Security and Labor departments said Friday that the allotment is in addition to the original 33,000 H-2B visas for the second half of the year, all of which have been claimed.
Maine's congressional delegation had pushed for an increase in the number of H-2B visas, which many tourism businesses in Maine use to bring in workers from overseas for the summer season.
Earlier this year, Sen. Angus King urged President Biden to rescind a Trump administration ban on seasonal and cultural exchange visas and Sen. Susan Collins got a commitment from the Department of Labor that there would be sufficient visas issued to meet seasonal business demands for workers.
Greg Dugal, director of government affairs for the trade group HospitalityMaine, said the increase in visas was welcome news.
"We are in high hopes that the process now moves forward quickly as a busy summer is shaping up for the hospitality industry in the state of Maine," Dugal said in a statement.
H-2B visas are issued to overseas workers only after businesses make a concerted effort to hire American workers for open positions and attest that their business will suffer irreparable harm without additional employees. Employers can seek additional workers under the expanded H-2B program beginning Tuesday.