Seasonal Workers Shortage in Ocean City After J-1 Visa Denials - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Seasonal Workers Shortage in Ocean City After J-1 Visa Denials

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OCEAN CITY, Md.- With the busy summer season around the corner, some Ocean City businesses are struggling to find the workers they need.

"I've been here for twenty years, and this is the first time we deal with something like this," says Mrs. Anne Marie Conestabile, Program Director at United Work and Travel, an agency that sponsors students from all over the world to come and work in Ocean City under the J-1 Visa program.

"Students can come and work legally for a set amount of time, we usually have about 1,500 students in our agency," adds Conestabile.

The situation is different this year. Conestabile says, for unknown reasons, they have received hundreds of visa denials for the students.

"In Thailand, The Dominican Republic, all over Eastern Europe. We have had about 200 to 250 visas denied," she adds. "I have 900 secondary jobs openings that were supposed to be filled by students that were denied. Our landlords are also suffering because they were counting on those students and they're not here."

This has had an impact on business all over town.

"We're a really tight right now," explains Anna Dolle Bushnell, co-owner of Dolle's Candyland. "We reduced our hours which in exchange has reduced our business. So may wasn't so great it could have been a fantastic month, but we just weren't able to keep our stores open simply because we don't have enough staff."

Dolle Bushnell says she has also tried to hire local workers, but, hasn't had much luck.

The Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, says they're aware of the problem and are working on creative strategies to move forward.

"We're thinking to maybe work with a sister city, with a season different than ours, to kind of help alleviate some of this workforce issues," says Melanie Purcell, director of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

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