Gov. Ralph Torres announced Wednesday morning that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be granting a 30-day relief to those individuals currently without an approved Temporary Labor Certification under the CW-1 visa application process.
The announcement comes after a month of discussions between the Office of the Governor, the White House, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the governor’s proposal for relief under the timelines of the CW application process, according to statements from the Office of the Governor and Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate.
“While more details will be posted in the next few hours on the USCIS website in the form of a web alert, I have been informed that individuals will have until Nov. 1, 2019,” Torres said.
The governor and the delegate have held meetings, phone conversations and correspondence with federal officials, including the White House, USCIS and the U.S. Department of Labor in an effort to address the situation.
Officials said many Marianas employers and CW workers were at risk of not meeting the new deadlines. There were 2,536 applications for temporary labor certifications, covering 7,217 workers, still pending as of Monday, according to the Department of Labor.
Torres noted that further guidance will be provided by USCIS in a web announcement and that employers should submit their documents as soon as they can within the new extended timelines.
Delegate: Persistent efforts successful
In a separate statement, Sablan said the congressional office received word that information about the one-time, limited reprieve will be posted on the USCIS website.
The congressman has been working with USCIS to make sure that large numbers of CW workers do not have to leave the Marianas when the fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 because their employers were unfamiliar with the new requirement to obtain a temporary labor certification.
“This is good news,” Sablan stated in the release. “Businesses that filed for a temporary labor certification starting after Oct. 1 for a CW worker they currently employ and have not yet received approval will not have to send their workers home."