U.S. proclamation lifts some immigrant, non-immigrant travel restrictions

Posted: Feb. 26, 2021

President Joe Biden Feb. 24 took action to revoke Proclamation 10014 (Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak) and sections of related proclamations that added non-immigrants to the travel suspension.

Originally issued April 20, 2020, by then-President Donald Trump and extended by him in June and December through sections of proclamations 10052 and 10131, respectively, Proclamation 10014 prevented certain immigrants and non-immigrants from traveling to the United States. Included in the group were individuals who either were selected to receive the opportunity to apply for visas—including H-2B visas—through the fiscal 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery or who had already received such visas, causing labor challenges for many industries, including the horseracing industry. Biden’s proclamation revokes these restrictions.

In other foreign worker developments, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it had received enough H-2B worker petitions by Feb. 12 to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B visa cap of 33,000 visas for the second half of fiscal 2021.

In December, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 became law and included a provision that provides the DHS with the discretionary authority to release an additional 64,716 H-2B visas when sufficient need is demonstrated. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, through its involvement with the H-2B Workforce Coalition, supports efforts to make these additional visas immediately available to seasonal businesses struggling with labor issues.

The H-2B visa guest worker program is a non-immigrant visa program used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horseracing industry, racehorse trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backstretch positions. Demand for H-2B visas often exceeds their availability and the cap level is quickly reached, leaving employers in need.