H-2B Visas

H-2B Visa Language Removed from Bill

The H-2B visa guest worker program, used frequently by trainers to fill backside positions, has been the subject of potentially damaging language within the fiscal year 2022 Department of Labor Appropriations bill. United States Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) offered an amendment July 15 to remove certain sections from the bill that would have made it difficult for employers to use the H-2B visa. During committee consideration, the amendment passed by voice vote. "Thank you to all who contacted their Representative regarding this issue," said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop....

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Labor Reform in Washington: Could it Help Racing?

For many trainers around the country, their biggest practical worry from day to day isn't the patchwork quilt of medication rules and regulations, or the fear that one trainer has an unfair competitive edge over another, but whether they've enough grooms, hotwalkers and riders populating their barns to properly tend to the horses in their care. With fewer and fewer North Americans siphoning into horse racing, the sport has turned for relief, of course, with growing reliance on Central and South America--what has proven an increasingly tenuous stable of talent...

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Returning Worker Exception Act Aims for H-2B Relief

New federal legislation has been introduced that, if passed, could prove a fillip for trainers struggling to find and hold on to immigrant grooms, hotwalkers and exercise riders in a labor market already squeezed thin. The H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act of 2021, introduced Tuesday, is designed to "develop a long-term solution to permanently address" the annual H-2B visa cap. According to the bill as currently written, it amends the definition of "returning worker" to include anyone who has entered the U.S. on an H-2B visa in any one of...

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22K Additional H-2B Visas Available for Second Half of Fiscal Year

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor issued a joint temporary final rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register that offers 22,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for the second half of the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2021. The visas, used by employers such as racehorse trainers seeking seasonal guest workers, are capped at 66,000 annually, with an even split of 33,000 available for each half of the federal government's fiscal year. Six thousand of these supplemental visas will be reserved for nationals of...

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Additional H-2B Visas Soon to be Available During Second Half of Federal Fiscal Year

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor have agreed to offer 22,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for the second half of the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. These visas are used by employers, such as racehorse trainers, who seek seasonal guest workers. They are capped at 66,000 annually, with an even split of 33,000 available for each half of the federal government's fiscal year. The additional visas will be made available later this spring or early summer via a temporary final...

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NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop Joins TDN Writers' Room

There's plenty to talk about in racing these days, and NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland Wednesday morning to dig into a good deal of the sport's most pressing topics. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Waldrop talked about how to capitalize and sustain the positive handle trends of the past year, how to pay for the groundbreaking Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, what movement he expects on H-2B visas with a new administration and more. "Looking back...

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NTRA's Alex Waldrop Joins the TDN Writers' Room

NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop joins this week's TDN Writers' Room to talk on positive handle trends, H-2B visas, paying for HISA and more.

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State Department Releases H-2B Guidance, Providing Opportunity for Trainers

The State Department released guidance for the Presidential Proclamations from June 22 (P.P. 10014 & 10052) that temporarily suspended issuance of new non-immigrant visas, such as the H-2B visa used by horse trainers. The guidance provides exceptions to the suspension and gives trainers the opportunity to secure more H-2B workers if at least two of the following three indicators are present: The applicant was previously employed and trained by the petitioning U.S. employer. The applicant is traveling based on a temporary labor certification (TLC) that reflects continued need for the...

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Pandemic Affects Visas, Limiting H-2B Workers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- George Weaver feels it. So do Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey. Among the many new issues that Thoroughbred trainers across the country must contend with during the 2020 pandemic is a shortage of skilled staff. In recent years, it has become more difficult for horsemen to secure all the H-2B visas that they desire to legally bring foreign nationals into the country as guest workers. The arrival of COVID-19 in late winter closed U.S. consulates, compounding the problems, preventing visa holders from getting their...

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KEEP Issues Response to the Suspension of H-2B Visas

The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) released the following response to President Trump's announcement that no new H-2B visas would be issued in 2020: "On Monday, June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an order that extends the federal government's suspension of new H-2B visas, as well as other work visas, through the end of the year. This order, as with the previous order issued in March, claims to open up new jobs to Americans during a time of record unemployment. However, when it comes to the Kentucky horse industry, this...

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Dept of Homeland Security to Allocate 35K Additional H-2B Visas

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security communicated to Congressional offices its intent to release 35,000 additional H-2B visas for the summer season of Fiscal Year 2020. This non-immigrant visa program is used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horse racing industry, racehorse trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions. While DHS has not yet released a final rule outlining specific details, the agency has provided the following: Federal regulators will release the supplementals in two phases....

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