Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

CNMI Update: Advance Parole, Biometrics/Interviews, Transitional Workers, P.O. Box Recommendation

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds non-citizens living in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for advance parole before traveling abroad if they do not otherwise have U.S. lawful permanent resident status or an “appropriate” U.S. visa (not a visa for “B” visitor admission or under the Visa Waiver Program only). Advance parole allows people lawfully living and working in the CNMI to continue to do so when they return from foreign travel. It will also allow processing of a pending application for adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent resident to continue.

USCIS also notes that those living and/or working or studying in the CNMI under CNMI permits should request parole before seeking to travel to Guam and other parts of the U.S. People who entered before November 28, 2009, are present without admission or parole. Although they are entitled to lawfully remain and work in the CNMI to the extent they were authorized to do so under former CNMI law as of November 28, 2009, for up to two years after that date, they will need a grant of parole to continue to live, work, and/or study in the CNMI during this period after travel to another U.S. destination.

USCIS advises applicants for immigration benefits in the CNMI who live in Rota or Tinian that appointments for biometrics and interviews have been combined into one. USCIS did this to minimize the expense people face in traveling to Saipan twice for separate biometrics appointment and interview. If an applicant in Rota or Tinian who is awaiting an interview receives a notice of a biometrics appointment, he or she can ignore that notice and have the fingerprints and photograph taken the day of the interview.

Meanwhile, in response to a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, USCIS is not accepting any petitions for a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transitional worker (CW-1) until further notice. The agency said that the injunction does not affect any aspect of the application of federal immigration laws to the CNMI other than the transitional worker nonimmigrant category. USCIS said it has decided to provide an additional opportunity for the public to comment on its proposed transitional worker classification provisions as set forth in an interim rule (PDF). USCIS reopened the public comment period for an additional 30 days, extended the original comment period until January 8, 2010, and said it will consider comments received throughout the entirety of the public comment period in development of its final transitional worker classification rule.

USCIS also announced that it will grant parole status to eligible foreign nationals from certain groups in the CNMI affected by the transition. The groups include CNMI permanent residents, their immediate relatives, and the immediate relatives of citizens of the Compacts of Freely Associated States (the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands).

USCIS also advised anyone living in the CNMI who submits an immigration application to list their P.O. Box where the form asks for a street or physical address. If an applicant has already filed an application using a street name, USCIS advises completing a change of address. The agency noted that applications that do not use post office boxes are being returned to the USCIS office.

A technical correction to the CNMI interim rule (adding the edition date and OMB Control Number for the new Form I–9 CNMI, “CNMI Employment Eligibility Verification”) is available as PDF.

Information about the issuance of prevailing wage determinations for use in the CNMI is available as PDF.

For more information about immigration benefits or to check the status of an application, USCIS suggests visiting; calling USCIS Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283; or making an appointment via the Web site to visit the USCIS office at TSL Plaza in Saipan.

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.