H-2B visas on the decline; some N.C. business owners concerned

GREENVILLE, N.C. – (WNCT) – Many local businesses in North Carolina depend on one federal program to help bring in workers from other countries.

H-2-B Visas are set up to help local business bring in temporary employees for the seafood, landscaping and tourism industries.

Those companies utilize the help from foreign employees to help U.S. business for seasonal periods of time throughout the year.

“Local business, they are great contributors to our local economy and if they don’t have the workforce to do the jobs…those businesses are going to hurt big time,” said Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, the executive director of AMEXCAN, a local nonprofit that is an advocate of the H-2-B program.

Some say the government program takes away from American workers, but Garland Fulcher Seafood president Sherrill Styron disagrees. He says he is seeing the effects of not having enough help for his business to thrive.

“We’re not taking any American jobs at all,” said Styron. “Any Americans that wants this job is welcome to have it.”

Across the country, 6,660 H-2B visas are allotted every year, with North Carolina using the third most in the nation. At least 4,000 worker certifications according to the office of foreign labor certification.

Styron said the program is a mutually beneficial for business owners and seasonal employees.

“We depend on them, they depend on us and we bring about the same people up every year,” said Styron. “Actually, some of them have been coming long enough, it’s almost like their family.”

And as many business owners look to the future with hope, they believe they will still come out on top.

“But we will make out, we’ll do what we can, that’s all we can do,” added Styron.


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