The U.S. Government Accountability Office released today a report citing the need for the Department of Homeland Security to do more on the transitional Commonwealth-only worker program, at a time when CNMI employers remain uncertain whether they will still continue to have access to foreign workers beyond Dec. 31, 2014.
GAO, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, also said the U.S. Department of Labor has not determined whether to extend the transition period, according to DOL officials, and is not required to do so until July 2014.
GAO recommends that the DHS secretary (1) provide, on publication of its permit allocations, the methodology used, and (2) use Department of Labor analyses as a factor in deciding future permit allocations.
DHS agreed to publish its methodology but will wait to review DOL analyses until they are available before deciding to use them.
DHS' Sept. 7, 2011 final rule establishing the transitional work permit program in the CNMI addressed key requirements of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, the law that placed CNMI immigration under federal control.
DHS' decision on its permit allocation for fiscal year 2013 and a Department of Labor decision on whether and when to extend the transition period, both required by CNRA, are both pending.
GAO said DHS plans to announce the permit allocation for fiscal year 2013 by the end of September 2012.
A full copy of the GAO report can be viewed at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-975.
More details to follow.