Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) will soon introduce legislation to improve access to the H-2B workers vital for golf and other seasonal industries. The H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act would create a permanent exception to the extremely low annual cap for H-2B workers who are returning to the United States within three years of their first time in the country. If enacted, this would relieve the pressure faced by superintendents as they struggle to find the seasonal labor for their courses. GCSAA supports this legislation and will fight to see it become law.
As discussed previously, the H-2B Visa program includes a historically low cap on visas: only 66,000 temporary workers are allowed into the country each year. GCSAA has strongly urged Congress and the administration to increase these numbers to reflect the reality that superintendents face, including on the most recent National Golf Day. GCSAA was pleased when the Department of Homeland Security responded in April by releasing an additional 22,000 visas, and will continue to advocate for additional visas on a yearly basis but Congress needs to come up with a long-term fix. The H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act would address the need by taking returning workers out of the cap equation. As a result, golf and other seasonal employers would be able to retain the trusted workers who come to the U.S. seasonally and other employers could compete for new workers. The Act includes a number of other measures designed to maintain and strengthen safety protections for workers. It also would create a single coordinated digital platform for requests for certifications, petitions and visas as well as digital interactions with employers, to reduce employer burden.
Cuellar will be joined by a bipartisan group of representatives as sponsors of the bill, indicating the broad support the H-2B Visa program enjoys. GCSAA will work hard to lobby Congress on this legislation, both on a direct and grassroot level, to see that it gets signed into law.