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USCIS Provides Guidance Related to Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act

USCIS announced it will automatically extend parole, and employment authorization if applicable, for certain residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This specific extension of parole as authorized by law will provide relief while USCIS establishes procedures for obtaining the new CNMI Resident status, which was created by the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (Public Law 116-24).

Are you from Northern Mariana Islands?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow up to 12,999 nonimmigrants in fiscal year (FY) 2016 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) program. DHS published the notice in today’s Federal Register.
Under the CW-1 program, employers in the CNMI can apply for temporary permission to employ foreign nationals who are ineligible for any existing employment-based nonimmigrant category under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The CW program is in effect until Dec. 31, 2019. DHS reduced the FY 2016 CW-1 limit by 1,000 to meet the CNMI’s existing labor market needs and provide opportunity for potential growth, while meeting a regulatory requirement to reduce the numerical limit each year.
Today’s announcement does not affect the status of current CW-1 workers unless their employer files for an extension of their current authorized period of stay. Approved petitions with an employment-start date between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016 will generally count towards the 12,999 limit. The numerical limit applies only to CW-1 principals. It does not directly affect anyone currently holding CW-2 status, which is for spouses and minor children of CW-1 nonimmigrants. However, CW-2 nonimmigrants may be indirectly affected because their status depends upon that of the principal CW-1.

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