USCIS has until December to issue HR 559 regulations


Even though U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has yet to publish guidelines for recently-enacted law that allows parolees to apply for CNMI-only resident status, one parolee is not that worried.

“I am not worried because that is the law. If they [USCIS] can’t come up with the regulations [soon], I believe they will give us an extension,” said Itos Feliciano, who is one of the over 1,000 parolees under the Immigration and Nationality Act who now qualifies for CNMI-only resident status.

A provision of the newly-enacted H.R. 559 mandates the Department of Homeland Security to come up within six months, or 180 days, with the process on how aliens who are eligible to apply for CNMI-only resident status can do it. The bill was enacted on June 26, 2019. That means DHS has up to the end of December to come out with the regulations.

Feliciano pointed out that people similar to his case are “protected by a law signed by U.S. President Donald J. Trump.”

Confirming with Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), he noted that USCIS has yet to release guidelines on the new legislation. Saipan Tribune reached out to USCIS through email but the federal agency has yet to respond as of press time.

However, according to H.R. 559, the secretary of Homeland Security may, at his own discretion, authorize deferred action or parole as needed—with work authorization—beyond the 180-day period.

Feliciano is only one of 1,039 parolees who received long-term humanitarian parole, or people who are under the categorical parole program and those holding employment authorization documents.

H.R. 559 took almost five months of efforts to pass U.S. Congress and be ultimately enacted by Trump.

H.R. 559 applies to all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other stateless individuals, CNMI permanent residents and their IRs, IRs of citizens of Freely Associated States (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau), and certain in-home caregivers of CNMI residents.

Sablan introduced the legislation last Jan. 15 and it passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 3, 2019. The Senate passed it on June 24, 2019, and was enacted by Trump two days later.

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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