240-day CW-1 extension clarified

A legal foreign worker in the Commonwealth, more commonly known as a CW-1 visa holder, may legally stay and continue working for up to 240 days beyond their expiration if certain conditions are met.

A statement from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which was issued in response to an inquiry made by the office of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), states that the 240-day relief given to a CW-1 visa holder is only eligible if the employer renews the CW-1 visa and is asking to continue a previously approved employment; the employer files the petition before the CW-1 visa expires; and if the employer asks to extend the employee’s stay in the petition.

The 240 days of continued employment is still subject to USCIS approval on a case-by-case basis.

“The 240 days of continued employment authorization does not extend a CW-1 worker’s nonimmigrant status,” said David Gulick, district director of USCIS for Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI, in the USCIS statement.

“It only allows the employee to continue working with the same employer,” he clarified in the letter, adding that the 240-day authorization does not give the visa holder a nonimmigrant status but rather allows the holder to continue working for his employer while not accruing unlawful presence in the CNMI despite the expiry of the CW-1 visa.

Unlawful presence may be a bar to future entry to the U.S.

Official statements issued to Saipan Tribune by Sablan’s office expressed hope that the clarification will be helpful for “some people whose fiscal year 2017 CW-1 permits are expiring soon.”

“The three criteria set out by USCIS must be met to continue working lawfully for the same employer for up to 240 days, or until USCIS issues a decision on a fiscal 2018 petition, whichever comes first,” said the statement, adding that the 240-day rule would provide relief to employers as well.

“I encourage employers to make an appointment at the USCIS Application Service Center to determine whether the rule applies to their particular case,” concluded the statement.

For more information on the 240-day rule, visit the USCIS page on the matter at: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/cw-1-cnmi-only-transitional-worker/temporary-relief-workers-expiring-cw-1-nonimmigrant-status.

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Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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