Washington St. Asst Coach Bex Freebairn Can No Longer Work in US after Change in Visa Rules

Washington State assistant swim coach Bex Freebairn announced on Twitter she will be leaving her post with the team. The move wasn’t by choice, however, as Freebairn is originally from New Zealand, and her work visa will be expiring in the next few weeks.

Due to the worldwide travel restrictions and significantly slowed visa processing caused by COVID-19, as well as changes in worker visa policy from the U.S. government, Freebairn says that she was unable to get her work visa renewed, and therefore won’t be allowed to legally work in the U.S.

Freebairn posted a lengthy message announcing the news on Twitter:

Notice: there is coarse language in these Tweets.

Freebairn concludes her message by saying “I’ll be back”, seemingly indicating she plans to get her visa renewed as soon as she’s able to so she can return to work here in the United States.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily suspended issuing new work visas to foreign workers. The new order will be in place at least until the end of the year and includes a variety of jobs, including those who enter the country under the H-1B visa for skilled workers, like coaches. Officials have estimated that this will keep as many as 525000 foreign workers out of the country between now and the end of the year.

Freebairn started with Washington State head coach Matt Leach back when he was the head coach at Indiana State, and remained on Leach’s staff when he took the job at Washington State. During the 2 seasons with the new coaching staff at Washington State, the Cougars have improved significantly. They had the program’s first NCAA qualifier in a decade, and have virtually rewritten their all-time top 10 in nearly every event. Additionally, and arguably most importantly, Washington State has ramped up their recruiting under Leach’s leadership, bringing in large recruiting classes for a program that had a very small roster just a few years ago.

She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

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Chris Ritter
2 years ago

We had Bex on the Swim Coaches Base Podcast that just released today. It was recorded before all of this went down but it’s clear she’s an amazing coach and I hope she’s able to be back in the states working very soon. Big loss for WSU.

https://swimcoachesbasepodcast.com/episodes/i-love-seeing-a-swimmers-joy-bex-freebairn-s1!ccc61

Nick
2 years ago

I know in our area assistant coaches have been laid off due to budgetary pressures stemming from Covid. A shame to lose this obviously well-liked coach but perhaps for the time being we should look after our own. Note also that she is returning to NZ which has fared far better than the US.

PowerPlay
Reply to  Nick
2 years ago

NZ defeated Covid 19 and successfully changed gun laws after mass shooting. Two areas where US has failed miserably.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  PowerPlay
2 years ago

Sounds like NZ is going peachy!
A review of New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities has found that the system is under “extreme stress” as more and more Kiwis return home. It came as four more returnees tested positive to Covid-19 in the biggest one-day jump in cases in two months.
The review found “resources required to support the managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) function have failed to keep pace with the increased volume of returnees”.
“The team found that the system, whilst not broken, is under extreme stress and is not readily able to respond to the increasing demands being placed upon it,” the review found.

TEDDYREECE
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
2 years ago

HISWIMCOACH, your pretentiousness and disrespectful comments regarding the NZ handling of COVID are just plain silly. Yes the country has seen new cases. That’s expected. There is no cure, the virus isn’t going to disappear entirely on its own. The new cases, all of which have been brought into the country, are being handled in isolation restricting the possibilities of community transmission. The whole world is under extreme stress due to this virus. And if you’re not worried or stressed, you should be. Unlike the US, NZ has done extremely well, considering the circumstances. Before you comment on the population being smaller or drawing other preposterous arguments, think that NZ population is similar to that of Alabama (Or Louisiana) and… Read more »

200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
2 years ago

I never realized that so many SwimSwam fans and commenters held dual PhDs in Economics and Political Science.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
2 years ago

Guess you gotta be an “expert” to have opinions when SwimSwam runs political stories.

We should all just stay in our own lane because it’s impossible to know anything other than the specific thing you studied or worked in?

Hank Monroe
Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
2 years ago

Agree, the argument of don’t comment unless you are an expert is just a way to try and shut down a conversation that you can’t make a compelling argument against.

200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
Reply to  Hank Monroe
2 years ago

Or you can learn how to take a joke.
Lighten up, Francis.

Corn Pop
2 years ago

I really doubt Kiwis would be happy with a visa holder being given the chance to work in NZ going ape – sh*t over PM Arden . They may say Fick eff. Feck iff or whatever vowel they are individualising .

Ncaaswimfan
2 years ago

Her farewell letter was gracious, elegant and almost made me sad …until she had to go political blaming #45 . At that point she lost me and maybe she’ll do better in her native NZ and hopefully she can compite for a job among her conationals. People forget that until they get a legal residence (“green card”- no longer green or naturalized) they are just guest in this country.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Ncaaswimfan
2 years ago

Is worth pointing out that New Zealand has tough immigration policies. In NZ you would have to show that an assistant swimming coach was in such high demand that there wasn’t enough qualified citizens to fill the position.

Swimmom
Reply to  Irish Ringer
2 years ago

In U.S., to obtain a H-1, the employer also needs to submit proofs that the company has tried “hard”to fill the vacancy among citizens to no avail, thus justifies the H-1 visa to the labor department locally. An ad needs to be posted somewhere for the vacancy. Years ago, the manager needs to interview like 3 candidates with citizenship if they answer the ads(vaguely remember). What lots of employers do are to make the job requirement very specific, with some skills only the H-1 seeker has.

Participant Ribbon
Reply to  Ncaaswimfan
2 years ago

An argument could be made that the policies by the party who “cares” haven’t helped minorities or those in poverty. We had the New Deal in the 30’s from FDR, the War on Poverty and the Great Society in the 60s, and the left has rolled out policies for almost 90 years that resulted in the transfer of $4 trillion dollars in wealth from tax payers to support these programs. The hand out doesn’t seem to be helping, but the hand up in the form of job creation was working for all demographics prior to Covid-19.

opinionated
Reply to  Ncaaswimfan
2 years ago

It absolutely is political though??? Are you personally offended that’s shes right and that the policies from the trump administration are some of the reasons she can’t stay??? She didn’t “forget” that she’s a “guest” in this country (very ignorant viewpoint by the way). She tried to get her visa renewed and she couldn’t due to the ongoing pandemic and other restrictions. We also need to stop the thought process that people don’t have the right to be here if they weren’t born here. That’s extremely toxic. You shouldn’t be part of this discussion if you can’t see beyond your own opinions.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  opinionated
2 years ago

Opionated. Nobody said if you aren’t from here you don’t have the right to be here. Every country in the world has rules and regulations about how long visitors can stay and/or work.

Just because you don’t like Trump doesn’t mean this is the wrong decision during the pandemic. And she did in fact make it political in her post by bringing up a politician.

opinionated
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
2 years ago

I literally said it was political and she has a right to bring it up so thank you for supporting my point.
Also let’s think about the fact that the US has the highest number of COVID cases and NZ hasn’t had a new case in weeks and sending her home COULD jeopardize that.
Just a thought.

Corn Pop
Reply to  opinionated
2 years ago

Social media profiles are part of the approval process for US visas. People from allied countries are refused quite regularly because of their posts. Trick if you want to go to X country be careful of what you post. Amplify that if you want to to live , work there.

Whilst the discussion has diverted to physical walls on this thread , borders are also virtual. If anything Covid 19 has strengthened borders & reduced travel , tourism & emigration severely for the next few years.

A fun fact about NZ . The Health Department advised the NZ government not to let foreign.based Kiwis back into the country at all ! She would have been a refugee… Read more »

SueG
Reply to  Ncaaswimfan
2 years ago

It is his fault. 🤦‍♀️

Hank Monroe
2 years ago

It’s unfortunate and shutting down large portions of the economy during Covid-19 had a far ranging impact. We have around 19.5 million workers in the US still claiming unemployment and last week new claims came in at 1.48 million . According to DHS we have around 600,000 H-1Bs and company’s like Facebook prefer H1Bs which make it hard for US graduates to obtain employment. Prior to Covid-19 unemployment was so low in the tech sector that it didn’t matter, but with the current unemployment rate now tough decisions are being made.

Sam
2 years ago

it’s a miracle this country held up for 3.5 years without collapsing under this “leadership”, but every miracle comes to an end.

HuntleyJones
Reply to  Sam
2 years ago

It’s not like Sloppy Joe Biden would or could do any better…

Participant Ribbon
Reply to  HuntleyJones
2 years ago

Joe makes great deals with the Ukraine though 🙂

PARTICIPANT RIBBON
Reply to  Sam
2 years ago

Many countries have a visa requirement for foreign workers and they also impose quota/limits and need based requirements on how many workers are allowed. This isn’t something #45 made up and he does take a strong stance on giving preference to citizens.

David
Reply to  Sam
2 years ago

The “leadership” you mock led to the best economy in the history of the world for every demographic until COVID was unleased on the world . Facts are facts!

PARTICIPANT RIBBON
Reply to  David
2 years ago

Here are the unemployment stats to back that claim…..
https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/unemployment-rate
The US was down to 3.5% and I believe the lowest ever recorded was 2.50% in 1953

Swimpop
Reply to  PARTICIPANT RIBBON
2 years ago

And still that “leader” ran up an additional 2 trillion in debt, genius.

Okay...
Reply to  Swimpop
2 years ago

Let’s acknowledge that Obama was just a bad, if not worse, with spending. https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-national-debt-deficit-compared-to-obama-bush-clinton-2019-2

That’s my statement on that issue. At the end of the day, it’s terribly sad for this coach and these swimmers that Bex will not be able to return for this season. It’s going to be a tough transition for everyone, and adding politics to the mix serves no one. I wish her and this team the best of luck as they process the situation!

Ghost
Reply to  PARTICIPANT RIBBON
2 years ago

Do you realize that shutting down the economy was preventable if he dealt with pandemic quicker? South Korea never shut down and they have only had 300 deaths. Or at least if done sooner, many thousands would not have died! EU, Canada, SE Asia, Australia and NZ all have done a better job than US!
And now what is our unemployment rate!

Bossanova
Reply to  Ghost
2 years ago

The truth hurts but Trump is a failure. I really liked him at first because he was an outsider and a businessman, but he’s failed to deliver on pretty much everything! He hasn’t built the wall with Mexico paying for it. He hasn’t replaced Obamacare with something better. He hasn’t jailed Hillary. He hasn’t brought back coal and manufacturing. Honestly he seems most interested in tweeting insults above anything else. I won’t be voting for him again.

Hank Monroe
Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

I’m not sure I would say he failed on the wall. It was reported that as of Tuesday the US had constructed 216 miles on the souther border and forecasted 450 miles of construction by the end of the year. This is considerable due to the all the opposition he faced trying to do this. Now if he had no opposition and had failed to construct the wall then you might have a point. It’s also a fact that unauthorized entry has been declining for over a decade so these aren’t new policies by #45. While Trump has been consistent on this topic there are no shortage of sound bites and written stances by other politicians that have changed in… Read more »

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  Hank Monroe
2 years ago

Hank, they’ll only find some other distraction to argue you on.

Because CNN, MSNBC, NYT, etc have conditioned them that orange man bad.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Ghost
2 years ago

Ghost, you should go back and review the criticism the POTUS got for the early actions he did take. Preventing flights from China and Europe wasn’t received well.

MarkB
Reply to  David
2 years ago

I can’t believe I’m doing this but David did say facts are facts: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-45827430
I stayed out of the US media since: a) I know that any citation from a US source will be jumped on by either side and b) I live in London now and like to see their take on our trials and tribulations.

Bossanova
Reply to  MarkB
2 years ago

Wrong. The vast majority of that is just reinforcing the previous wall. It’s nothing new. Trump failed to capitalize on a majority in both the senate and the house and now that he’s lost the house it’s convenient for him to blame his failures on the opposition party. It’s okay that you fell for his lies, I did too. Fortunately, I can admit it.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

Reinforcement requires construction. The stories have been clear that it’s not all new construction and several miles needed updated. Hopefully nobody you know calls a house renovation construction. 😂

Bossanova
Reply to  Justin Thompson
2 years ago

Oh I must have forgotten that Trump ran on a platform of “We’re going to reinforce the wall we already have and Mexico is going to pay for it!”

Dude it’s okay that you got taken in by a con man. You can admit it.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

Dude, why are you attacking Trump on the wall? We have a sorry here where a swim coach could have gone classy and instead ended in getting political.

This story has almost nothing to do with Trump other than the fact that the coach brought him in to the story.

I’ll say it again: all countries have immigration rules. Ours are actually quite loose compared to many other countries.

Bear in mind that you brought up the wall.

Bossanova
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
2 years ago

The article mentions Trump so I brought up his many failures. When someone tried to defend him on one of them, I pointed out why they’re wrong. At least you know (somewhere in that Fox News addled brain) that he failed to deliver on the wall so you go with “why bring up wall?” and “all countries have immigrate law!”

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

Not a Fox guy, although Tucker is good a lot of the time. I like the Hill Rising and Rubin Report much more.

Corbett Report also has some really good stuff.

I check CNN to see which insane thing they are preaching as wellZ

Bossanova
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
2 years ago

That’s cool I get all my news from the Stormy Daniels podcast

Hiswimcoach
Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

no wonder you’re so well informed on everything! I’ll have to put that one on my playlist.

TEDDYREECE
Reply to  David
2 years ago

FACTS ARE FACTS? Here are some facts for you, the US ranks 17th in the world for economic freedom, 15th in the world for healthcare, 26th for life expectancy, 19th in the world for happiness and 27th in the world for education. SO, the leadership you’re referencing, is not the best in the world in many instances. Even prior to COVID.

Guerra
2 years ago

Sad news, but unfortunately the sign of times we’re living in right now. Bex seemed to be well liked and respected by her athletes and I hope she gets the opportunity to return soon.