As the spring approaches, GCSAA continues to fight for more H-2B Visas so that golf has access to a safe, legal and reliable seasonal workforce in 2020. The H-2B program is arbitrarily capped at 66,000 visas annually, with only 33,000 distributed semi-annually on April 1 and Oct. 1. This continues to be inadequate to meet golf’s labor needs in a strong economy. A number of recent developments indicate that golf’s voice is being heard by federal decision-makers on this issue.
First, Bob Helland, director of congressional and federal affairs, met with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security’s Private Sector Office to discuss how the H-2B program helps provide temporary, non-immigrant workers for golf courses and other employers that have exhausted all efforts to hire American workers for their seasonal positions. Helland also asked that the DHS provide as many additional workers beyond the current 66,000 cap as possible. The FY 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations bill –- signed into law by the President –- authorizes the DHS to provide up to 64,716 extra H-2B Visas for 2020, if it finds that there are too few Americans to meet the need for seasonal workers. Every indication is that the need exists. In the first few days of 2020, employers, including golf, requested a record 99,362 workers for an April 1, 2020, start date. That’s more than three times as many H-2B visas available for that date and more than what is available for the entire year.
Recent news reports indicate that the DHS will release an additional H-2B visas soon. While preliminary, the reports are that DHS is considering releasing additional visas, at a higher number than the 30,000 additional visas issued last year and sooner. This is welcome news. GCSAA will continue to lobby in Washington on the direct and grassroots level to make sure that golf has access to the labor it needs. H-2B provides a tool for golf course management to meet its labor needs in a strong economy, and GCSAA’s government affairs team will continue to fight for its availability.