USCIS modifies ‘touchback’

Hundreds of workers expected to qualify
Posted on Oct 31 2022


Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan

Hundreds of CW-1 workers may have an extra year before they are required to leave the Marianas under the “touchback” provision of the U.S. Workforce Act, according to the latest advisory of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Previously, a worker approved on or after June 18, 2020, for a one-year CW-1 validity period was eligible for two more consecutive petition validity periods. So, touchback would be required at the end of the 2023 validity period. In its announcement last Friday, USCIS has now refined that policy only to cover petitions granted on or after June 18, 2020, that also had a starting validity date on or after that date. This effectively means that for some workers touchback would not be required until the end of the 2024 petition, an extra year.

In a separate news release last Friday, USCIS said that, effective immediately, the only CW-1 petitions it will classify as consecutive petitions for purposes of the temporary departure requirement are approved CW-1 petitions that have a starting validity date on or after June 18, 2020. Any extension of CW-1 status granted on or after June 18, 2020, will be considered a consecutive petition if the extension has a starting validity date on or after that date (and not backdated before that date).

“For example, if we approved a petition on July 1, 2020, but the petition was backdated to grant status from Oct. 1, 2019, we would consider that petition approved as of the earlier validity date of Oct. 1, 2019. Therefore, this petition would not apply toward the temporary departure requirement,” it added.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has been meeting with the Marianas business community regularly to hear concerns about 2023, when the touchback requirement begins to affect the existing workforce. He has also been in discussion with USCIS about these concerns and how they could be addressed.

“The business leaders who have come to me understand the requirement to send CW workers back to their home country every three years is an important feature of the U.S. Workforce Act. It reminds employers that CW workers are temporary in nature and increases the economic incentive to hire local, U.S. workers whenever possible,” Sablan said.

“The pandemic has made it very difficult to stay in business, however. So, I appreciate that USCIS was able to take another look at how the touchback provision would be applied and that some employers will get an additional one-year grace period.”

Sablan also helped bring employer concerns about delays in issuance of Temporary Labor Certifications to the attention of USCIS; and the agency granted relief for those employers in an announcement last week.
The USCIS decision regarding touchback is available at (PR)

Press Release
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