US senators fight to bring J-1 visa workers back to Alaska

WYSE Work Abroad

Alaska processors are running on fewer workers this year due to the alteration of the J-1 visa program last year, but US senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski introduced two amendments on Friday that would bring those workers back.

The amendments, now part of the Senate’s immigration bill S. 744, cleared one legislative hurdle on Friday and are set to face a key vote on Monday.

The move creates a “clear, fair process for employers to hire foreign employees for temporary seasonal work when necessary,” Begich said.

J-1 visas are short term, four-month visas that Begich says were a “good fit” for Alaska’s seafood industry. However, these were excluded from the program last year on concerns that Alaska’s seafood sector did not actually fit the intentions of the bill, which are in part to provide a cultural exchange experience for foreigners. The industry tends to require long shifts from their…

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