Maine: non-tourism businesses suffering from delay in H-2B (migrant worker) visa release

Smokey’s Greater Shows, which operates at fairs and festivals across Maine, may not be able to set up carnival-style rides at as many events this year due to staffing shortages.
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TOPSHAM, Maine — Maine’s non-tourism businesses are suffering from worker shortages and are blaming the delay in receiving H-2B visas.

The visas allow non-citizens to come to the United States to work on a temporary or seasonal basis.

“Normally we get our foreign laborers the H2 B visa program but […] there’s no guarantee when we’ll get our employees for the 2019 festival and fair season,” said Smokey’s Greater Shows owner Robby Driskill.

Driskill plans to host a job fair to try to attract people in Maine to work seasonally for his company touring Maine and New England. The event goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 1 at the Topsham Fairgrounds. They plan to hold another on May 8 from 1:30-3:30 and from 4:30-6:30 at the fairgrounds.

RELATED: Bar Harbor businesses struggle to find season employees

He said people are concerned they would be replaced or laid off for workers from away who could be paid less. Driskill said he would not do that.

“I would hire them first and if I fall short I would make the adjustment with the foreign labor but at no time will I hire the foreign labor and then lay off the American workers,” Driskill wrote in a text message. “That seems to be a concern when people talk to me about the job fair.”

“This season could be in jeopardy of not having enough people operate the rides,” Driskill wrote.

He said that means they may not have as many rides available.

This story will be updated

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