Due to difficulty of bringing in construction workers to the CNMI, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has hired Italian workers to help finish the construction of its delayed casino/resort in Garapan.
As of press time last night, Saipan Tribune was still trying to obtain a statement from IPI.
Saipan Tribune learned from multiple sources that less than 100 Italian workers recently arrived on Saipan to help finish the casino construction project.
Sources said the Italian workers went to the Commonwealth Casino Commission last week possibly to get their licenses to work on the construction site.
Sources said the hired Italians are all construction workers who will work on the façade of the building.
It is not clear as to why IPI has chosen to hire Italians.
A few months ago, the CNMI Department of Labor granted IPI’s request for an exemption from the 30% U.S. citizen hiring requirement for construction jobs. Labor, however, allowed IPI such exemption for two years only.
In 2017, nonresident construction workers were barred from the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa program. Early this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security removed the Philippines from the list of countries whose workers are eligible for H-2B visas. Filipinos and Chinese used to be the main source of IPI’s construction workers. Because of DHS’ removal, last February IPI reported that half of its 800 construction workers left the island because of the expiration of their H-2B visas.
It was also reported early this year that IPI is also trying to hire construction workers in South Korea and Taiwan as the two countries are on the DHS list of H-2B eligible nations.
IPI aims to finish its casino/resort project in February 2021.