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Maine lawmakers lead push for more temporary work visas

The request concerns H-2B visas, which allow employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Lawmakers from Maine are helping lead a charge for an increase of a cap on work visas this year. 

Independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree said Tuesday they are leading a bipartisan group in calling for U.S. Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf to make the change. 

Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden also joined in signing the lawmakers' letter to Secretary Wolf.

The request concerns H-2B visas, which allow employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. The delegation said Wolf has the ability to release more than 64,000 of the visas for the remainder of the fiscal year. 

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“Given the continued low unemployment and growing demand for H-2B workers, as evidenced by the recent number of applications for the second half of the fiscal year, we urge the Department to promptly make available all 64,716 additional visas authorized under the law as soon as possible,” the lawmakers wrote. “These vital American businesses depend on the expeditious release of a sufficient number of additional visas.”

Maine businesses have had difficulty filling seasonal job positions ahead of tourism season. If changes are made, it would likely help Maine businesses hire workers from outside the U.S.

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