Hagåtña, Guam – Following meetings by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Guam Department of Labor (GDOL), H-2B guidelines for Guam are currently being revised to clarify federal requirements and include local input. Publication of the revised guidance is expected soon and will support local contractors and stimulate construction projects.
“The difficulty of securing workers for local construction projects has presented challenges not only to Guam’s contractors, but also to families building their homes,” said Acting Governor Josh Tenorio. “As we work together with our federal partners, we are optimistic that we can achieve more H-2B approvals and bolster the ability of contractors to meet the growing needs of our people. We also hope these efforts will lead us to long term resolutions, such as expanding the scope of imported skilled labor to support Guam’s economic diversification.”
In support of facilitating more H-2B worker approvals, the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration has been expressing concerns from Guam contractors to the USCIS since July 2021. As a result of these efforts, USCIS has begun discussions with the Guam Department of Labor (GDOL) to review policies for potential improvements. There are currently 2,277 H-2B workers on Guam, the highest since 1997 based on GDOL reports. Despite meeting this milestone, all H-2B workers on Guam are currently assigned to projects designated as “directly connected to, associated with or supporting” the U.S. military realignment.
Provisions relative to the Guam military buildup recently passed in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act allow more flexibility for USCIS to approve projects deemed adversely affected by the military realignment occurring on Guam. However, contractors have encountered challenges in successfully accessing this criteria. GDOL Director David Dell’Isola and Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division Administrator Greg Massey met with USCIS officials in September and October 2021. Based on these meetings, USCIS is currently vetting revised policy guidance proffered by GDOL that clarifies federal requirements and includes more local input as part of the adjudication process on H-2B applications.