Guam H-2B worker drought ending at least for military

Guam DOL's Greg Massey and Director Sam Mabini

The Guam Department of Labor has confirmed the approvals of 162 H-2B petitions for defense projects — the first of the 4,000 alien work visa slots authorized for Guam under the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

The approved H-2B petitions are for PHC Corp. that will fill the following positions: carpenter (128) construction equipment mechanic (5), electrician (7), plumber (8) and welder (14).

Greg Massey, administrator of the Guam Department of Labor's Alien Labor Processing and Certificate Division, said it's the first such approval since November 2016.

There remaining 171 positions for three occupations that require USCIS approval for PHC Corporation: cement masons, heavy equipment operators, and iron workers. Guam DOL officials anticipate an update on those 171 next week.

The authorized issuance of 4,000 H-2B visas does not apply to civilian projects beyond the defense.

Just the same, Gov. Eddie Calvo welcomed the approval of the fist set of petitions. “This is good news,” he said. “This is the first test case of the NDAA visa approval process and we weren’t certain how USCIS would respond to these petitions.” Massey and Guam Labor Director Sam Mabini are waiting USCIS’ response to other petitions that have been submitted by other local contractors to see if there’s a positive trend. Massey said the numbers for H2B workers in prior years has averaged about 1,500. “The second big test would be the federal agency’s response to petitions for skilled workers for outside-the-fence projects,” Calvo said. “Just this week, I signed a petition for the first of those projects by a contractor that was involved in the GCA lawsuit.” The governor is referring to the Ace Builders petition for 555 skilled workers. His letter of support will be added to the petition packet that will be sent to USCIS.

At te Guam Industry Forum last last month, Calvo reiterated his p