A CW-1 worker in the CNMI who is granted permanent resident status would still be required to obtain travel authorization before he or she re-enters the CNMI upon traveling out of the Commonwealth, according to immigration lawyer Janet H. King last week.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry regarding the Long-Term Residents Relief Act, King said the CNMI resident status only grants status that leads to an Employment Authorization Document or EAD.
For those who are CW-1 workers—formally referred to as Commonwealth-Only Transitional Worker—he or she will get an EAD and the employers would not be bound to them as CW-1 workers, specifically the U.S. Department of Labor prevailing wage that is necessary for obtaining a Temporary Labor Certification when applying for CW-1 employees.
King said U.S. citizens will then be competing for work with CNMI resident status holders who have EADs, because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has no process in place that would require CNMI employers to prioritize qualified, available U.S. citizens first before offering work to foreign workers with EADs.
In explaining one of the listed categories for an alien worker to be eligible for Long-Term Residents Relief Act, King said that if a foreign worker were an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen—a spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen—on Nov. 27, 2011, then he or she is included in one of the qualifying categories that would be able to go on to the next set of qualifications for the CNMI resident status application, Form I-955.
Saipan Tribune learned that many foreign workers are still asking whether the Long-Term Residents Relief Act covers only those 1,000 or so people who have been granted humanitarian or administrative parole.
Last year, President Trump signed Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-MP) Long-Term Residents Relief Act, Public Law 116-24.
Sablan said that act converts about 1,000 people living under administrative parole into residents with a permanent, legal status in the Marianas.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed Sablan’s H.R. 560, granting permanent status in the Marianas to foreign investors originally admitted to the Commonwealth under local immigration law.
Sablan said H.R. 560 would also grant permanent status in the Marianas to a small group of foreign workers, some of whom have been in the Marianas for 40 years.
With the passage of H.R. 560, many long-term foreign workers are now considering whether they should just wait for the Senate’s approval and Trump’s subsequent enactment of that bill into law, or just apply for permanent resident status under the Long-term Residents Relief Act.
The application period for those seeking the new CNMI long-term resident status opened last Feb. 19. Eligible aliens will have 180 days to apply for the new status.