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Warner, Kaine praise interim relief for Virginia seafood industry

newspaperToday, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) for providing interim relief to Virginia businesses that rely on seasonal workers, including the seafood industry, but underscored that many details must still be worked out. Last night, DOL filed an uncontested motion to stay a March 4thU.S. District Court ruling that had caused the immediate suspension of application processing, allowing H-2B visa processing to proceed until April 15.

The joint DOL and DHS announcement followed a March 13 letter from a bipartisan group of 14 Senators including Kaine and Warner calling on the agencies to coordinate and immediately resume accepting and processing H-2B visa applications. Last week’s ruling caused concern among the Virginia seafood industry, which relies on seasonal workers during peak harvest season.

“These workers are essential for Virginia’s seafood businesses, which are about to start peak harvesting season. I applaud the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security for responding swiftly to the concerns we raised last week and working to find a solution that addresses the court’s concerns,” said Warner. “Businesses that depend on this visa program deserve clear and reasonable rules of the road. I will continue to insist that this program be better administered in the future. I will also keep working with my colleagues to find a legislative solution that will put an end to this uncertainty and ensure that Virginia businesses have the seasonal workforce they need.”

“I met with representatives from Virginia seafood companies in Washington today to discuss this situation,” said Kaine. “I am pleased that the departments took swift action following the congressional letter.  However, companies need more specifics in order to plan ahead.  I will continue monitoring this situation in the coming days and will work with my colleagues on a long-term solution to avoid the uncertainty created by these court rulings.”