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More H-2B visas could offer relief for Michigan tourism industry

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Michigan's tourism industry has a lot of trouble finding seasonal workers.

That's especially true for all the bustling hotels, fudge shops, and other summer-only businesses in northern Michigan.

Monday's announcement by the federal government that it will add more H-2B visas for temporary summer workers could help, at least, a little.

Miller Canfield attorney Rebecca Mancini says the additional 15,000 visas are for the entire U.S.
"So employers are definitely scrambling right now to prepare and submit these applications that will be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis," says Mancini.

Dykema attorney Jim Aldrich says Americans rarely seek these jobs. He says businesses that want to hire foreign temp workers must first advertise locally.

"The employer is required to advertise on the Michigan Talent Connect and in two newspapers in the area," notes Aldrich. "In northern Michigan, it's often the Traverse City Record-Eagle. I've got clients who don't get any responses."

Mancini and Aldrich says the problem is mirrored when it comes to H-1B visas. Those visas are for skilled labor jobs like computer scientist, requiring a college degree or above. Often, companies in Michigan can't find American workers with the requisite STEM skills for these jobs.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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