An unexplainable cancellation of a CW-1 visa interview appointment worries a long-time Filipino worker on island, asserting that it will have an adverse impact on her vacation and her employment.
The worker, who asked not to be named, said in an interview yesterday that what was supposed to be her opportunity to relieve stress became the source of inconvenience and hassle for her.
She narrated that it took her months to plan her upcoming month-long vacation in the Philippines, scheduling all appointments for interviews and preparing each documentation she would need to ensure that she is able to return back to Saipan where she works as an accountant.
According to the worker, she is scheduled to leave for Manila on Saturday, Jan. 26, prompting her to avail of a Jan. 30 schedule at the U.S. Embassy for her CW-1 visa interview.
Her chosen schedule, she explained, anticipated enough time before the embassy returns her approved visa.
She noted that the visa is needed when obtaining her overseas employment certificate or OEC, a document required under rules and regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to ensure Filipino workers are properly documented, are eligible to receive government protection and benefits, and are exempted from travel tax and airport terminal fee.
However, the worker was surprised to find out that her Jan. 30 schedule for a CW-1 visa interview was cancelled, disrupting her schedule which takes into account a return trip to Saipan on Feb. 26 then immediately report for work.
Probing for reasons why it was cancelled, the worker called the embassy's hotline to be told that all Jan. 30 CW-1 visa appointments were cancelled because “they could not conduct the interview due to operational requirement by NIV Unit.”
NIV stands for non-immigrant visa, the category for the CW-1 visa required from foreign workers who wish to re-enter the Commonwealth after a vacation in a non-U.S. area.
“I asked them to explain what they meant by operational requirement but the person on the other line couldn't do it,” said the worker, who also sought an explanation from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Application Support Center at TSL Plaza in Garapan. “They couldn't explain it either. They said that their work is totally different and separate from the embassy.”
The worker, who has been working on Saipan since 1992, criticized the lack of further explanation from the U.S. Embassy on the cancellation of all appointments and without taking the initiative to reschedule it automatically.
Because of her cancelled interview, she had to make a new appointment which is set on Feb. 20 or six days before her scheduled departure from Manila to Saipan.
This meant additional expenses as she has to rebook her return flight because of the need to wait for the release of her visa and reschedule her appointment for OEC application.
The worker also noted additional travel time between Manila, where the embassy is located, and her province in the Visayas region.
“I am worried that all these hassles would jeopardize my position at my company,” she said. The worker added that she will attempt to request from the consul who will interview her to expedite the release of her visa, but admits that it's going to be a long shot.
The CW visa category was created pursuant to U.S. Public Law 110-229 signed in May 2008, which placed CNMI immigration under federal control effective Nov. 28, 2009. The regulations, however, were published only in September 2011.