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USCIS Issues Final Rule for CNMI-Only Investor Program


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a final rule (PDF) on December 20, 2010, that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The “E-2 CNMI Investor Visa” allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014. Petitions for the E-2 CNMI Investor classification will be accepted beginning January 18, 2011. Petitions received before that date will be rejected.

Authorized by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, the E-2 CNMI Investor Visa will be issued for two years, is renewable, and is valid only in the CNMI. The investor’s spouse and children may also apply for status as dependents of the investor.

Long-term investors are individuals with certain CNMI-issued investor permits that required a fixed minimum investment amount and whose permits can be renewed over a period of multiple years.

Those eligible for E-2 CNMI Investor status include long-term business, foreign, and retiree foreign investors. To qualify, the investor must:

  • have been admitted to the CNMI with a long-term investor visa under CNMI immigration law before November 28, 2009;
  • have continuously maintained residence in the CNMI with long-term investor status;
  • currently maintain the investment(s) that formed the basis for the CNMI long-term investor status; and
  • otherwise be admissible to the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Investors must file an initial petition before January 18, 2013, and must use the existing Petitioner for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with Supplement E. After the initial petition is granted, extensions are available until December 31, 2014. The processing fee is $325, plus an $85 biometrics fee for certain beneficiaries who require an initial grant of status in the CNMI. Fee waivers for inability to pay are available.

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