Work Visas Become Scarce for Ocean City Businesses - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Stephanie Douglass

Work Visas Become Scarce for Ocean City Businesses

Many beach business owners depend on foreign help during the busy summer season. Many beach business owners depend on foreign help during the busy summer season.

OCEAN CITY-  Every year Ocean City businesses depend upon foreign workers to fill job positions. But this year, it may be hard for them to find those people.

The government has a cap on the number of H2B visas they give out each year, which is 66,000.  Usually all of those visas are given out by March, but this year they were all gone by Jan. 3. 

With this shortage of visas, some Ocean City businesses are wondering how they will find enough summer workers. Paul Wall, vice president of Phillips, said as of right now, his companie has enough workers for their restaurants and hotel but no one to fill spots at their seafood plants.

"This could really be a hard ship for the Eastern Shore of Maryland because we depend so much on seasonal workers, that are unfortunatley not available in the American market," Wall said.

Wall said the problem seems to get worse and worse each year, and that is why his company is  now appealing to the government for help.  Phillips and several other companies are working with Maryland officials to try and increase the number of foreign workers that are allowed to work each year.  They say if their plan works, it will not be in time for the upcoming summer season.

But there are voices of opposition.  Nick Campagnoli of the International Student Center said the problem is not as bad as businesses make it out to be. 

"The truth is, if you want to be honest is that the H2B visa problem is a problem for the United States, but not for Ocean City," said Campagnoli.

There are other types of visa workers that come to Ocean City during the summer, but the H2B visa is the most desirable.  Businesses say the reason why the visas ran out so quickly this year is because of the growing demand for foreign workers.

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