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Northern Mariana Islands Transition to U.S. Immigration Law; Guam Also Affected


On November 28, 2009, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transitioned to U.S. immigration law under the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA). Although U.S. immigration law now applies to the CNMI, it will undergo a transition period with temporary measures ending December 31, 2014, to allow for an orderly transition and give individuals time to identify an appropriate visa classification, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced.

Recognizing that some unique situations would result as the CNMI transitions to U.S. immigration law, ICE said that the Department of Homeland Security may grant parole to applicants for admission on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Parole authority will be used in two specific situations in the CNMI: eligible Chinese and Russian nationals visiting for business or pleasure will be eligible for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-administered parole into the CNMI on a case-by-case basis, and certain affected people, including CNMI permanent residents and various categories of immediate relatives, will be eligible for parole on a case-by-case basis.

The CNRA also contains two provisions that affect the U.S. Territory of Guam: elimination of the current Guam Visa Waiver Program and creation of a new Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, under which eligible nationals of program countries and geographic areas may be authorized to visit Guam and/or the CNMI for up to 45 days; and elimination of the statutory cap on the number of H nonimmigrant worker petitions that can be filed by employers in Guam and the CNMI.

CBP has begun inspecting all passengers arriving at CNMI airports on flights from outside the U.S. CNMI authorities will continue to conduct customs inspections.

Resources: Fact Sheet (PDF)

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