The Torres administration sees it as good news the announcement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that it has opened the application period for the new CNMI long-term resident status.
In the midst of the economical struggles the CNMI government is currently facing, the announcement is “welcoming and beautiful news” for the CNMI, said press secretary Kevin Bautista.
He added that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios have supported the long-term status for qualified longtime nonresidents for years.
Bautista said that Torres was a member of the CNMI Senate when it recommended improved status for long-term aliens in 2011.
According to Bautista, the NMI Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act signed by President Donald Trump on June 25, 2019, was a vital part of the Torres administration’s recommendations at the 902 consultations, and their work with the White House, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), and other members of Congress.
“The governor’s office will do everything it can to support USCIS in making sure that this [law will be implemented] as smoothly and efficiently as possible so that the qualified families can benefit from it in the right way,” he said.
Bautista added that the news was special to him personally, being the son of immigrant workers who have built a life in the CNMI.
“You know, I know I am talking on behalf of the administration, but as a Filipino-American in this administration, it means a lot to see this policy now being implemented by USCIS,” Bautista said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the application period for those seeking the new CNMI long-term resident status opened on Feb. 19, 2020.
Eligible aliens will have 180 days to apply for the new status, which was created by the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (48 U.S.C. 1806(e)(6)), signed by Trump on June 25, 2019.
Applicants must file Form I-955, Application for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status, together with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, by Aug. 17, 2020. CNMI long-term resident status is not the same thing as lawful permanent residence and does not lead to lawful permanent resident status.