USCIS emptyhanded on revised CW-1 regs

USCIS urges business to file CW-1 petitions
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Posted on Jul 11 2019

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services community relations and outreach regional lead Jennifer Lane addresses the Saipan Chamber of Commerce during a brief presentation Wednesday. (Erwin Encinares)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services remains without updated CW-1 regulations that would guide CNMI employers in petitioning foreign workers or renewing their immigration visas.

The new regulations are supposed to govern the implementation of Public Law 115-218, or the Northern Marian Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, which President Trump enacted on July 24, 2018. Yet one year later, it was learned yesterday during a presentation to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce that there are still no updated CW-1 regulations reflecting the passage of P.L. 115-218.

However, Jennifer Lane, USCIS community relations and outreach regional lead, noted that the absence of updated CW regulations should not discourage business-owners from submitting their CW-1 petitions.

“…Just because we haven’t published the regulations yet doesn’t mean you cannot apply for it,” she said. “…If you are filing for an employee, a CW-1, who will start their employment by Sept. 30 or earlier, then you are filing…under the [fiscal year] 2019 numbers.”

Anything beyond Oct. 1, 2019, would consume fiscal year 2020 slots, Lane noted during yesterday’s brief presentation at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.

The only caveat for applying beyond October 2019, according to Lane, would be to submit an additional document known as the “temporary labor certification” from the NMI Department of Labor.

Also, with the absence of the new regulations governing the CW-1 visa, Lane noted that E-Verify.gov, a source for information on electronic employment eligibility that is open to the public, is still not mandatory.

“Because we haven’t published the House Resolution 559, E-Verify is still not mandatory. [E-Verify] will not be mandatory until we publish the [new] regulations,” she said. In the meantime, Lane suggests that employers should start getting familiar with E-Verify for the future.

Lane, who presented to the SCC and answered questions with USCIS district 26 community relations officer Kamana Mathur, did not specify when USCIS plans to release the new CW-1 regulations.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had already sent three letters to USCIS. Two letters were dated June 6, 2019 and Sept. 18, 2019, while an earlier letter to then-U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen around August 2018 urged the agency to reserve 200 CW-1 permit applications for healthcare practitioners and both technical and healthcare support occupations.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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