8,001 new permits for FY19
WASHINGTON, D.C.—“The Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act is up and running,” Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) announced today. “The notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services went online, while I was meeting at their office this afternoon. Marianas employers who had their FY19 applications rejected because the USCIS cap of 4,999 was filled may now apply again.”
Sablan met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen early in the day and thanked her for the President’s action yesterday. Trump signed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act on Tuesday evening, lifting the number of FY19 CW permits to 13,000.
Sablan also met with the USCIS officials who will be responsible for implementing the new law. “We did not know exactly which day the President might act,” Sablan said. “But July 24 was the last day for action, so we scheduled the meeting for today, July 25.
“My primary concern was that Marianas employers would be able to apply for the 8,001 new CW permits, as quickly as possible. We had staff-level conversations after the Senate approved the U.S. Workforce Act, and USCIS was well aware that I was eager to open the application window right away.
“USCIS did not disappoint. As we went through a long list of questions about how the new law will be implemented, the notice went live online that the FY19 application window is open again.”
USCIS stopped taking FY19 CW applications on April 11, when the cap of 4,999, set by the Trump administration was reached. That left some 5,000 FY18 CW permit holders with no way to continue working in the Marianas.
Employers will have to use a new CW application that came out in May; and the new $50 anti-fraud fee, contained in the U.S. Workforce Act, will have to be paid in addition to the regular application costs. Other new requirements of the U.S. Workforce Act will not go into effect until the FY20 application period opens.
Sablan encouraged employers who had applications rejected after April 11 to act quickly to reapply. “Although there are an additional 8,001 new permits available for FY19, 3,000 more than were available in FY18, the provision in the U.S. Workforce Act that gives application preference to renewals is not effective until next year. So, for now, applications are strictly first-come, first-served. It would be wise not to wait to apply.
“We have worked a long time to get these new permits, do not wait to use them,” the delegate added.
Employers who submitted applications prior to April 11 that were accepted by USCIS should also know that their CW workers may continue working for up to 240 days, while their application is pending. “Nothing in the U.S. Workforce Act changed that,” said Sablan. (PR)