December 7, 2011
For the last month the figure of an estimated 16,000 foreign workers in the CNMI has been lowered to an estimate of 13,399. I am assuming that means that an estimated 2,000 foreign workers have departed the CNMI since 2010. If the 13,399 figure is correct that would mean that about 60 to 70 percent of the foreign workers have been petitioned for CW status. It is not clear how many employers filed H-1B visas for foreign workers.
Other foreign workers who have no employers have filed for humanitarian parole.
Some foreign workers whose employers have filed HB-1 visas rather than CW visas have complained that the delay in responses from USCIS in approving EADs or visas has created a mess for employees and their employers. They report that after November 28th they have been unable to work for lack of proper authorizations and work permits. It appears that those whose employers applied for H1-B visas for them must have their visas in hand in order to continue working. This has created hardship for the foreign employees who have to go without income, as well as for the employers who are struggling to cover the workers' absences. Some say that they have submitted all of the paperwork months ago including Employment Authorization Documents and H1B applications.
Still other foreign workers complained that they were unable to get appointments with USCIS to even ask questions. The appointment process requiring info-pass online resulted in many receiving the message, "At this time, there are no information appointments available for the office in your area. Please try back again later."
Hopefully, the new system USCIS has initiated will help both employees and employers to get much-needed answers. Now employers and employees can direct inquiries to a USCIS e-mail box that is specific for inquiries related to the CNMI, including questions about CW petitions, parole, and other questions. The e-mail address is CNMI.CSC@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS stated that the mailbox will be monitored by customer service personnel who are familiar with CNMI issues.