Some 37 percent or 4,570 of 12,428 foreign workers petitioned since last year have yet to be granted a transitional Commonwealth-only worker permit but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it hopes to adjudicate all initial petitions by Dec. 28, the expiration of the 90-day parole in place extension.
As of Oct. 23, USCIS granted CW-1 permits to 7,858 foreign workers.
Many of those with pending CW petitions were subject of a “request for evidence” from USCIS, which is awaiting responses from employers.
USCIS regional media manager Marie Therese Sebrechts provided the latest statistics on CW petitions during the weekend, saying that from Oct. 7, 2011 to Oct. 23, 2012, the California Service Center had data entered 6,129 I-129CW petitions.
These petitions were filed by some 1,858 different employers on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
A total of 12,428 CW-1 workers are sponsored on these petitions filed.
“A total of 4,588 petitions were approved consisting of 7,858 beneficiaries,” Sebrechts said.
But these numbers are not static, as USCIS continues to receive new petitions. In February, for example, USCIS received some 5,000 petitions, and the number has since grown to over 6,000 petitions.
Sebrechts also said responses are pending on approximately 500 RFEs.
USCIS denied 344 petitions, consisting of 450 beneficiaries.
The reasons for the denials have always been the result of any of the following: withdrawals by the employers; abandonment by the employers; absence of evidence that the employer-petitioner meets one of the eligibility requirements; and absence of evidence that the worker-beneficiary was lawfully present in the CNMI at the time of the filing.
Carlito Marquez, a concerned citizen, suggests that USCIS considers an automatic extension of parole in place for those whose CW petitions remain pending, many of them since about a year ago.
“Without automatic parole extension, everyone with expired or expiring parole have to go over the extension process again when it is not them that caused the delays in the first place. If the Dec. 28 deadline is not met again, USCIS will again require them to extend; why not just automatically extend their parole since it's not their fault that their CW petitions have not been granted yet?” Marquez told Saipan Tribune.
A 46-year-old dependent of a CW-1 application separately said yesterday that her husband's CW-1 application has been pending since October 2011 while his co-workers have already gotten their permits.
“Because my husband has yet to get his CW-1 permit, I also have yet to get my CW-2 or dependent permit. We're not so nervous about it because his colleagues have already been approved and he works at a reputable company. But we hope we'll get our permits soon. One good thing about the delay, though, is that we're able to save at least a year of application fees,” she said.
On Thursday, Stephen P. Green, field office director for USCIS Guam and CNMI, told members and guests of the Chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management during their monthly meeting that foreign workers who have yet to get their initial CW permits need to apply for an extension of their parole in place.
Once approved, the extended parole in place will be valid until Dec. 28, 2012, or 90 days from Sept. 30, 2012.
During Green's presentation, the only available data on CW permits and applications was as of Sept. 25, wherein 5,183 foreign workers had yet to receive a CW permit.
Moreover, many employers may now need to start applying for an extension of their workers' initial CW-1 permits-at least 90 days prior to the expiration of these permits.
More information is available at www.uscis.gov/cnmi or www.uscis.gov/cw.
The Fitial administration and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization with over 150 members, have been pushing for a five-year extension of the transitional CW program beyond Dec. 31, 2014, citing the need to still have access to skilled foreign labor to help run the local economy.