3 SMA pilots unable to fly CNMI-Guam since Jan. 11


Three Japanese senior pilots of Star Marianas Air have been unable to operate flights between the CNMI and Guam since last Jan. 11 because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has yet to grant their advance parole applications.

That delay prompted Star Marianas Air president Shaun R. Christian to ask Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios last Wednesday if they could help expedite their employees’ parole application with USCIS.

Without the ability to use the three pilots in flights into Guam, the company will be unable to maintain the existing level of flexibility in providing medical referral patient transfers and other on-demand charters between the CNMI and Guam, said Christian in his letter to Torres and Palacios.

“We are seeking assistance from the leadership in determining how to move this process to an expeditious resolution and to avoid a disruption to our operations,” he added.

The three Japanese, who have CW-1 visa status, fly Star Marianas’ twin engine Piper Chieftains.

Christian said the application for advance parole for the three pilots was submitted to USCIS for review and approval last Nov. 22.

Since then, Christian said they made several follow up to the Guam and CNMI USCIS offices. He said the last update that they received late last week was that the applications are under review by the Honolulu USCIS Office. In that time, Star Mariana’s last parole issuance expired last Jan. 10.

“To date, we do not know when or if advance parole will be granted,” Christian said.

He pointed out that although the three senior pilots are authorized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation to fly scheduled and non-scheduled flights in the U.S., they are restricted from flying between the CNMI and Guam because of their CW-1 visa status.

Christian said the three pilots need additional parole or advance parole permission from USCIS.

Prior to January 2020, the three were granted parole on a multiple entry basis by USCIS on Saipan. That changed in late 2019. Star Marianas was advised by USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to apply for advance parole instead.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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