On June 22, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) to suspend the issuance of temporary and seasonal worker visas through December 31, 2020. Specifically, the EO suspends the issuance of any new H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L-1, and some J-1 visas, thereby prohibiting the entry of these workers into the United States. This extends and expands upon a similar suspension that has been in place since April 22. While the EO is a response to the high unemployment the nation is experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many who use H-2B visas, including golf superintendents, believe it will hurt their ability to fill positions that otherwise will remain vacant.
Here are some important take-aways from the Executive Order:
- The timeframe is limited: The EO takes effect June 24 and ends December 24 of this year, although it may be renewed;
- The EO only affects new H-2B visas for those outside of the United States. Those already issued a visa, regardless of whether or not they have entered the country or have begun work, are still permitted to work in the United States this year;
- Some categories of workers are exempt, including: those critical to defense or law enforcement; those involved with medical care of individuals who have COVID-19; and “those necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States”.
- For winter season employers who normally rely on H-2B workers to begin on October 1, the first start date would not occur until the beginning of January, at the earliest.
GCSAA is an active member of the H-2B Workforce Coalition, which opposes the EO. The Coalition notes that the location and nature of many of H-2B positions, along with their temporary duration, make them less attractive to U.S. workers, many of whom expect to be re-hired in their previous positions. And the H-2B program already has a number of protections in place for U.S. workers, including requirements to recruit and offer jobs to U.S. workers first before looking elsewhere. Read the full statement here.
An available, legal and trained workforce is vital to the economic success of golf facilities and a top priority for the $84 billion golf industry as it recovers from the pandemic. GCSAA will continue to advocate for all measures necessary to ensure that golf has access to the labor it needs to thrive.