Aug. 17 is the final deadline for persons who have been living in the Marianas under humanitarian parole status and who may qualify to apply for permanent residence in the Marianas under U.S. Public Law 116-24.
Application forms and instructions for filing are available on the USCIS CNMI Long-Term Resident Status page. Applications must be postmarked on or before Aug. 17, 2020 to be considered.
Under the legislation, which Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) introduced in Congress, the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act was written to protect the 1,038 individuals who had been granted humanitarian parole during the Obama administration, from deportation. The Trump administration announced in December 2018 it would not extend the Obama-era paroles.
Once the Relief Act was signed into law in June 2019, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily extended parole and set the Aug. 17, 2020, deadline for application for permanent resident status.
Applicants must submit both Forms I-955 and Form I-765, and pay the biometric services fee of $85 and the Form I-765 filing fee of $410 at the time of applying. There is no filing fee for Form I-955.
There are no fee waivers or exemptions. USCIS will reject applications submitted without payment for fees.
The total cost of $495 is nonrefundable.
Persons seeking CMNI Long-Term Resident status must be in at least one of the following groups and meet additional criteria set out below.
Eligible groups are:
Stateless. Born in the Northern Mariana Islands between Jan. 1, 1974, and Jan. 9, 1978.
The spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a Stateless person.
CNMI Permanent Resident. Was, on Nov. 27, 2009, a permanent resident of the Commonwealth (as defined in the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code).
The spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a CNMI Permanent Resident.
Immediate relative. Was, on Nov. 27, 2011, and remains, a spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen.
Caregiver. Had a grant of parole on Dec. 31, 2018 as an in-home caregiver.
In addition, eligible persons must meet all of the following requirements:
– Have been lawfully present or in deferred action in the Commonwealth on June 25, 2019 or on Dec. 31, 2018;
– Be admissible as an immigrant to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act;
– Have resided continuously and lawfully in the Commonwealth from Nov. 28, 2009, through June 25, 2019; and
– Not be a citizen of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued five pages of Frequently Asked Questions about who may apply and how that are available at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/outreach-engagements/CNMI%20Long-Term%20Resident%20Engagement%20%E2%80%93%20Q%26A.pdf
Each application will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.
Sablan advises constituents to be wary of scams and unnecessary “document processing fees” that are being offered to those who hope to be eligible for permanent status. “Hope and a looming deadline can make us vulnerable to the unscrupulous,” Sablan said. “But, especially at this time when so many people have lost work because of the coronavirus, it would be tragic to spend money unnecessarily.”
He encourages those people who were previously granted humanitarian parole and who have determined they meet the criteria for eligibility, however, not to miss the Aug. 17 deadline.
Long-Term Resident Status provided under Public Law 116-24 allows the recipient to live and work legally in the Marianas for as long as they want without the need to apply for any other immigration visa or status. (PR)