APSP Intervenes to Avert Staffing Crisis

Apsp LogoWith help from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, pool management companies can continue to hire seasonal lifeguards with the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program without additional restrictions in foreign worker visas. 

Worry arose in January when the State Department issued a letter stating that pool management companies that placed lifeguards at their customer’s facilities were classified as “staffing agencies” and therefore subject to significant restrictions in their use of J-1 foreign worker visas for the 2013 pool season. With the summer season rapidly approaching and multi-year contracts in the balance, owners of pool management companies said there wasn’t enough time to adjust. As a result, APSP formed the J-1 Coalition, which asked for a clarification to the letter. 

A response from the State Department removes the “staffing agency” label from a pool management company that provides full services, including lifeguards. 

“Overall, the March 27 clarification letter of the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program guidelines is positive for the industry,” said Jennnifer Hatfield, APSP director of government relations. 

According to Hatfield, pool management companies will still need to demonstrate to sponsors the manner in which lifeguards are supervised and meet the work alongside requirements, keeping in mind that "work alongside" and "interact regularly with" are two separate requirements. She acknowledges though that even with the new interpretation and appropriate program management plans, some sponsors may be more willing than others to place program participants with pool management companies as lifeguards at single lifeguard facilities. 

“The J-1 Coalition will continue to help its members navigate this issue so that summer service is uninterrupted,” said Bill Weber, APSP president and CEO. “This was a major issue for our members that could have had serious implications for all pool management companies across the country. The outcome is another example of APSP’s success in creating industry coalitions to serve segments of the pool, spa or hot tub industry overcoming a regulatory challenge.” 

For more information on the J-1 Coalition contact Jennifer Hatfield: [email protected]

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