The Pacific Islands Club Saipan’s culinary department would have suffered tremendously without the 30-day extension for companies to submit their CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) extension applications, according to PIC general manager Gloria Cavanagh.
Had U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services not extend the CW applications deadline to Nov. 1, 2019, about 30 employees at PIC, most of them cooks, would have been affected, Cavanagh said in an interview last week
Cavanagh said she believes all hotels and businesses on the island have CW manpower problems, although at PIC “it’s a little bit minimal.”
“But we’re really glad and happy that there was a 30-day extension,” said Cavanagh, who is also the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Hotels board chairwoman.
She said majority of key positions at PIC are filled by U.S. citizens but many CW workers are also holding key positions as far as skilled labor is concerned.
The general manager said their CW workers in the building maintenance division were the first one to actually get their CW-1 permits.
“So that was fantastic. But our cooks, our culinary, would have been suffering greatly without the extension,” she added.
The mass exodus of foreign workers under the CW program was averted after USCIS announced last Sept. 25 the new submission deadline for CW-1 applications and renewal petitions.
Had there been no extension, the work permits of almost all foreign workers in the CNMI, which expired last Sept. 30, 2019, would have required the workers to exit the CNMI and await the approval of their work permits in their home countries, which could take weeks or months away from work.