Visas for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI-Saipan)
The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 extended U.S. immigration laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Part of the transition is the creation of two new visa categories solely for people who are already working in and living in the CNMI. The visa categories are for “transitional workers” (CW-1) and long term investors (E-2C) and will be valid until December 31, 2014.
Visas for both categories can be issued only after petitions have been filed with and approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please see the USCIS website pages on the CNMI for full information: http://www.uscis.gov/cnmi.
The transitional worker and investor visas are valid only for entrance into the CNMI. Visa holders cannot use these visas to travel to or work anywhere else in the United States. However, Filipino transitional workers will be allowed to transit through Guam to the CNMI on their visa.
Classification of CNMI Visas
CW-1 classification refers to transitional workers who are legally present in the CNMI at the time of the approval of the petition.
CW-2 classification refers to spouses and unmarried children under 18 years of age of CW-1 beneficiaries. CW-2 visa holders are not eligible to work in the CNMI.
E-2C classification refers to foreign investors who were lawfully admitted to the CNMI before November 28, 2009, under CNMI investor status. There are three sub-categories for this classification: Long Term Investor, Foreign Investor, and Retiree Investor.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of E-2C beneficiaries are eligible to apply for E-2C visas as dependents. Spouses on an E-2C dependent visa may apply for work authorization to be eligible to work in the CNMI.
How to Apply
In addition to the basic documentary requirements for a visa, the principal applicant for a CW-1 or E-2C visa must present a copy of the I-129CW petition, and an original or copy of the I-797 form. Please see the above USCIS link for petition information. After securing an approved petition, please check the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Procedures page.
Note that principal applicants for CW-1 visas may work for more than one employer but must have separate petitions for both.
For dependent spouses and children, the following must be submitted in addition to the basic requirements:
1. Copy of principal applicant’s current nonimmigrant CW-1 or E-2C visa (if following to join);
2. Copy of principal applicant's I-129CW petition and I-797 form;
3. Marriage certificate issued on Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) security paper for spouses; and
4. Birth certificate(s) issued on Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) security paper for eligible unmarried children
CW-1 applicants must read this pamphlet (PDF) about worker rights and protections prior to their visa interview. Please click here (PDF) for the Tagalog version. Applicants will be asked if they have received, read, and understood its contents before any visa can be issued.
- In some cases, additional documents may be requested.
- The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit does not require the receipt of petitions, including cable notifications, directly from USCIS.
- The approval of a petition by USCIS does not relieve the applicant of the burden of establishing visa eligibility. In the course of the interview and application process, questions may arise as to his or her eligibility for the visa classification.
Please feel free to visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for more information.
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