ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — The Department of Homeland Security agrees to release an extra 35,000 visas through the H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program, in a major win to help Maryland’s seafood industry.

The program allows employers to hire foreign workers to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform nonagricultural labor or services.

Governor Larry Hogan had written to officials urging them to release the visas in late January, and called for a long-term permanent solution to help the seafood industry.

In a letter to Secretaries Scalia and Wolf, Gov. Hogan said 500 H-2B seasonal workers are needed for Maryland’s 20 licensed crab-picking houses in a typical year, claiming that UMD research indicated that for every H-2B temporary worker in crab processing helps create 2.5 jobs for American citizens.

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Congressman Andy Harris released a statement applauding the Trump administration for the release:

“I applaud the Department of Homeland Security for approving the release of 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas in time for the upcoming summer season.  This is 5000 more supplemental visas than had been approved last year.  The record low unemployment rate under the Trump Administration and oversubscription to the H-2B visa program is a debilitating issue for the economy of Maryland’s First Congressional District and the country. I commend President Trump and Acting Secretary Wolf for providing these extras visas – and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a permanent solution to the chronic H-2B visa shortage across this country – something that only Congress can do.”

Maryland’s blue crab harvest season starts on April 1.

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