A recent U.S. District Court decision in Florida could have a negative effect on seasonal businesses in Alaska, including those in the tourism and fishing industries.
According to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office, the federal district court ruling found that the U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t have sole authority to administer the H-2B visa program.
That program allows businesses to hire foreign employees if they are not able to find local workers for those positions.
The Labor Department’s response to the ruling was to shut down the visa program completely.
In a letter sent Monday to the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, Murkowski writes that the ruling did not order the program to stop, and halting the program already has caused problems for businesses that depend on foreign labor.
The departments in question have indicated that they will resume processing applications on April 30th, but Murkowski writes that’s too late for Alaska’s busy summer work season.
She urged the departments to speed up the time frame for resuming the program.