Visa Extensions Will Be Issued to Non-Agricultural Workers

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BROWNSVILLE – The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor announced 15,000 new visas will be issued for temporary, non-agricultural workers.

Andrea Hance, executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association, said Monday the federal government will issue these visas on a first come, first serve basis.

She explained shrimp boat owners in the Rio Grande Valley region will be competing with business owners from other industries, such as landscaping or the hotel business.

In late June 2016, some local shrimpers said that they won’t be able to fish this season because of the lack of H2B visa workers.

Hance said some boat owners rely on Mexican or Central American workers to bring in the millions of pounds of shrimp collected every season.

The shrimp industry has already started and boat owners need all the labor they can get. Hance said there is a shortage now.

She added that boat owners will have to go through a process to bring on seasonal H2B visa workers.

“There’s still some paperwork that needs to be filed and that whole process takes another good three to four weeks. So, best case scenario, we might be able to receive some workers three to four weeks from now,” said Hance.

Hance told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she estimates waiting a month for the workers to start will cost the industry $1 million a day. The shrimping business will suffer if it does not have enough workers.

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