CNMI PROVISION INCLUDED IN SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL: Updated

April 17, 2013



The CNMI provision in the Senate version of the comprehensive immigration bill would serve the CNMI nonresident workers, the CNMI businesses, and the CNMI economy if the bill is signed into law. Still, this is just the start of a very long process. There remains a very long road ahead. The House version has yet to be released and a final bill would have to pass both the House and Senate in order to reach President Obama's desk. At the very least, we should be encouraged that the Senate has included such a beneficial CNMI provision and should remain hopeful that the House will have the wisdom to follow suit.

The CNMI provision is not perfect, but neither is the entire bill. Perfect would be a provision providing that all of the CNMI legal, longterm nonresident workers would be granted immediate permanent residency status. Perfect is not going to happen.

I share the exact sentiments expressed yesterday by President Obama:

"This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me. But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. "
The CNMI provision would provide for an eventual pathway to citizenship for the legal, longterm nonresidents after a five year waiting period during which qualifying nonresidents would be granted a CNMI-only status. The provision would allow for travel without the restrictive paperwork of the current CNMI-only immigration system. Additionally, it would eliminate the expensive and problematic CW visa process for thousands of longterm nonresidents, while also stabilizing the CNMI workforce to encourage economic growth.

Undocumented aliens in the CNMI would fall under the provisions of the overall immigration bill and would have a longer and more expensive pathway to citizenship. The out-of-status nonresidents that were brought into the CNMI as children by their parents would be covered by the DREAM Act provision, providing that they met the qualifications.

Overall, I am very pleased with the provision. It represents a win-win provision for the CNMI.  If eventually passed, it would remove the uncertainty and instability that so many of the CNMI's legal, longterm nonresidents have suffered for years, and even decades. Families would have the threat of separation replaced with security. The provision would allow many CNMI nonresidents to finally realize the American dream that has been out of their reach for so long.  Businesses could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they could retain the skilled and loyal employees that helped them to prosper over the years. The CNMI economy could recover and grow.

Appreciation should be given to Congressman Sablan and his staff who worked tirelessly to include the provision for CNMI nonresidents in this legislation. Congressman Sablan's provision is a fair and balanced compromise that should be embraced by the CNMI's individuals, business community and elected officials.  It may not totally please those of us who wanted to see a provision that would have granted outright citizenship to the CNMI's legal, longterm nonresidents. It may not totally please those who hoped for no status at all for the nonresidents. However, this provision is a well thought out compromise. It represents the provision that has the best chance of satisfying the many competing interests in the CNMI and of passing the U.S. Congress.

I encourage all CNMI residents, nonresidents, business owners and elected officials to rally behind this bill in one uniform voice. While eight bipartisan members of the Senate support it, that leaves 92 others to convince, as well as, 435 House members, many of whom must be persuaded to support immigration reform. With one uniform voice, the provision will have a greater chance of passage.

The alternative - no passage of the bill- would create a bleak scenario for everyone in the CNMI. No change could mean deeper economic gloom, more business loss and the continued suffering and uncertainty for nonresidents and their families.

The following is a summary of the CNMI provision: 
This bill establishes a CNMI-only status for certain individuals residing in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Eligible individuals: 
Group 1 - persons born in the CNMI between January 1, 1974 and January 9, 1978;
Group 2 – persons granted CNMI permanent resident status under CNMI immigration law;
Group 3 – the spouse or child of Group 1 or Group 2;
Group 4 – the immediate family members of U.S. citizens, regardless of age
Group 5 - foreign workers in the CNMI who were admitted under CNMI immigration law –
• 5 years prior to May 8, 2008;
• who have lived and worked in the Northern Marianas continuously since that time through date of enactment; and
• are presently in the Northern Marianas under CW-1 status;
Group 6  - the spouse and children of individuals in Group 5 who are currently present in the Northern Marianas under CW-2 status. CNMI-only status requires that the individual:
• be a member of one of the groups described above;
• be lawfully present or paroled in the Northern Marians under federal immigration law;
• be otherwise admissible under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act;
• have resided in the CNMI continuously from May 8, 2008 (effective date of P.L.110- 229) through the date of enactment of this Act;

CNMI-only status grants eligible individuals: the right of entry and exit to foreign countries and the rest of the U.S.; and for Groups 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, the ability to petition for lawful permanent residence when specific conditions are met.

 Legislation states:
• eligible individuals have a specified number of days to petition for CNMI-only status
• individuals unlawfully present in the Northern Marianas are excluded from eligibility for adjustment under this legislation;
• individuals granted CNMI-only status are not eligible for public assistance for which they are not otherwise entitled;
• Citizens of the Freely Associated States are excluded from eligibility to adjust status under this legislation.

___________________________

The CNMI Provision from the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:






UPDATE Statement from Janet Napolitano on the Senate bill:
“I am pleased by the work of the bi-partisan group of United States Senators to reform and modernize our nation’s immigration laws. The introduction of this legislation is an important step that reflects significant momentum toward building the 21st century immigration system that our nation needs. 
Over the past four years, this Administration has dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and while challenges will always remain, every metric we use to measure border security shows significant progress and improved quality of life at the border. Commonsense immigration reform will build on this historic progress, enhancing border security, facilitating lawful trade and travel, reuniting families and promoting economic growth. 
I welcome the Senate’s decision to act now on this issue of critical importance to our national and economic security and look forward to working closely with Congress in the coming weeks to build a firm, fair and effective enforcement system, based on the rule of law.”

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you mom!

Anonymous said...


You're right, Wendy. It's still a long journey and we would like to start this by being grateful to your untiring support. You never leave us. You are really blessings to us. It's still a long journey but we can see light now. We're full of hopes and dreams. I really pray hard for you and for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

i agree. stand together in support. Thanks for being with us, Mam.

Anonymous said...

Questions, I am an H1B visa worker since June 2012 but have lived and worked in Saipan since 1991. Am I covered by this Bill under Group 5? I also have a 4 years old son, if I am not going to fall under group 5, am I qualified under Group 3? Any enlightenment or response will be greatly appreciated. I know this Bill has a long road to take but this is an answered prayer.

Wendy Doromal said...

11:01 Can you please send an email to me at doromal@earthlink.net so I can get an answer to you? I am assuming that your son is a U.S. citizen? I believe that you are covered, but want to double check with officials.

6:59, 8:29 and 10:57 Thank you for your comments. Stay united and rally behind this provision!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you Ma'm Wendy for this information and your work for us. Thanks to Cong. Sablan! BIBA MARIANAS! BIBA AMERICA!

Anonymous said...

Mam wendy im here in saipan dec 2005 and up to may 2008 ,i didnt met the 5 yrs required by the bill,,that it means that i am not qualified to have a status.at the presentm holding cw1 status and have a 2 yrs old kid us citizen..im really got confused with that may 2008 provision in that bill.give me some guidance mam wendy,

Anonymous said...

your are covered in group 4

Anonymous said...

IT'S A LOLLYPOPS TO ALL THE POOR AND CHEATED ALIENS WHO WORKED AND BUILD THE CNMI.AFTER WORKING MORE THAN 20/25 YEARS NEED TO WAIT 5 MORE YEARS.IT'S A COMPLETELY DISGUSTING,ISN'T IT? ARE ALLIENS CHEATED AGAIN? SOME ALIENS R ALMOST QULIFYING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENIFITS BUT NOT QUALIFYING FOR STATUS YET? IS THIS ANOTHER TACTICS TO EXTEND THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD TO 2019?

Wendy Doromal said...

4:03 I am not sure if you are "covered". I would suggest that anyone with questions contact Congressman Sablan's office and ask a staff member. I do not want to give out the wrong information. Remember this is a proposal that can be changed or tweaked.

6:48 Clearly, this is not everything that we wanted, hoped for, or that the legal nonresidents deserve. As everyone knows, I support outright permanent residency status or U.S. citizenship for every one of the CNMI's legal, longterm foreign workers. True, it is unfair that people who have been legal, dedicated workers for years and decades have to jump through even more hoops to establish permanent residency. True, all of the legal, longterm nonresidents deserve to receive permanent residency upon passage of a status bill without any more waiting. True, the provision should have never been removed from the the original federalization bill. True, every just and humane guest worker program should have a pathway to citizenship. Also true -this is an extremely divided and polarized Congress and country on many important issues that must be addressed. At this point I am relieved that this provision was even included.

We should work to get it passed -to get the entire bill passed. There will be hearings and time to tweak legislation. With the partisan and poisonous political climate that exists in Congress asking too much may mean getting nothing. Do you want to risk that? I have too much love and respect for the CNMI nonresidents to risk that. Look at what happened yesterday with a simple gun bill. Many self-serving Senators put their re-election bids before the welfare and clear desires (according to polls) of the American people and defeated much needed legislation.

I opposed HR 1466 because it left out an entire category of deserving nonresidents -those without a U.S. citizen spouse or child. They are included in this provision! I opposed HR 1466 because it restricted travel and kept the legal nonresidents chained to the island with no pathway to citizenship. This bill changed that! We must be realistic. We must have some point where we can compromise. This is my point. I respect yours, but ask you to think would you have this or nothing? There are people in Washington who backed this provision and are amazed that this provision was even included in the bill. This is a victory -a first step, but a victory to even have the CNMI nonresidents included.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, i have been in saipan since 1989(over 25 years) , i'm holding E2C, have no U.S. citizen kids. Am i covered under group 5?

I'm also gutted that we legal non residents, serving this islands over decades, pay taxes, have to spend another 5 years to get a green card. its hard to do business in the cnmi at the moment.
by the time we get citizenship, some of us reach 70s!

somehow i feel like some of us need to spend more time to get residency than those undocumented aliens.

Anonymous said...

how about those who been working here since 2004 and up, since they not met the five years before 2008 and no us relatives what will happen with them, they work in cnmi pay taxes in almost ten years, any US status or pathway with them? isn't not fair with them to be left behind?

Anonymous said...

This bill is not fair for those person that born in the CNMI, this people have to wait another five years to adjust status? this is insane. I am not saying that Im againts with all non resident here.now is the time for them to get rigth status.

Anonymous said...

I totally object to adding five years waiting period.

an additional 5 year will NOT change the devastating economy, it will deteriorate more. we have spent 5 years already during the transition period and now we are told to wait another 5 year. people in the cnmi can not wait.
giving out green card immediately is the only way.
like many other legal foreign workers, i have spent 30 years here, have set up my own business, contributing much to the community. i cant afford another 5 years under the bad economy situation in cnmi to get green card and then another 5 years to US citizenship.

i seriously think CNMI legal foreign workers contribute a lot more and deserve better.

like other people comment earlier, undocumented aliens gets take 13 years to citizenship seems a long road to the US public media but what about us the cnmi LEGAL foreign workers? have been here for decades, abide US laws, additional 5 years for citizenship is a another nightmare!!

please say your thoughts people.

Anonymous said...

Have patience and wait for the final draft to be presented on the committee levels and then on the floor of the Senate for final deliberation. It takes awhile to become a reality. Pray harder and harder for guidance and sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Not fair... I sure can't go to PI and get citizenship for any reason because they discriminate against persons not of "PI blood", whatever that means.

The intent is fine for the US but is an economic nightmare for the CNMI because of the CNMI only provision. C1s, many of which are bogus and employ themselves, can bring kids, which is OK and humane but restricting them here has no economic logic other than to appease HANMI with too many workers to drive the value of each worker down.

The consequences of poverty will be certain in these poorly planned details.

Anonymous said...

anyone knows about E2c CNMI investor visa? is it included in the provision? i have my business in Saipan for decades.



Wendy Doromal said...

I understand the frustration of those who are disappointed with this proposal. I too, wanted immediate permanent residency or U.S. citizenship status to be granted outright with no more requirements and hoops. That would be the just and humane solution. We know that the CNMI's legal, longterm nonresidents deserve no less. However, it is not going to happen.

I also have concerns about parts of the proposal. However, at this point, we do not even know for certain if this provision will make it to the final bill. We do not even know for certain if this provision will be part of any House bill. Do you not remember the House hearing in 2007 where the status provision was cut!? Nani and I were at that markup hearing. It was the day when the federalization bill was gutted and the result was that a flawed federal program replaced a flawed local program. My point we just do not know what members will do.

You can do something! Every concerned and affected person should express his/her concerns and also make suggestions to Congressman Sablan. Why is this bill harmful to you and your family? Back up your concerns and suggestions with facts and examples.

EMAIL: http://sablan.house.gov/email-me

Washington Office Toll Free: 1-877-446-3465

Saipan office:
P.O. Box 504879
Saipan, MP 96950
Phone: (670) 323-2647/8
Fax: (670) 323-2649

Rota Office:
P.O. Box 1361
Rota, MP 96951
Phone: (670) 532-2647
Fax: (670) 532-2649

Tinian Office:
General Delivery
Tinian, MP 96952
Phone: (670) 433-2647
Fax: (670) 433-2648

Washington Office:
Washington, DC Office
423 Canon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2646, Toll Free: 1-877-446-3465
Fax: (202) 226-4249

Anonymous said...

Beside agreeing with the frustrations of the many in some of these "proposed" provisions, of the new immigration law.
I also noticed that there are some that have made comments that are engaged in "illegal activities" such as engaging in illegal business. As many have over the many years.
The "types" are the very ones that in the old days paid off the elected and others with the right family name and connections to sponsor them or the business, thus contributing to the problems in the NMI economy..

Anonymous said...

true. I also want to know whether the e2c investor visa will be covered under the provision? As I know that my boss is currently holding such visa, it will be a problem if he is not included. Shops will be closed down and CW workers will be affected. No jobs leads to worse economy.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from a close friend in DC that this bill may very well be amended in highlight of the recent terrorist attack by legal immigrants in Boston.

Wendy Doromal said...

9:19 There was a hearing today. And yes, some members are talking about the Boston bombing (right now it is live on TV that the second suspect is cornered)
Here are links: ABC
New York Times
Such nonsense.

Anonymous said...

as people know this is ONLY A DRAFT proposal. A wish list made by 8 of 100 senators. All 100 will have their opportunity to make their point of view known and it is a certainty that this proposal is going o be amended and changed before it ever gets close to a vote in the Senate. Then if it gets enough votes to get out of the Senate it will go to the House of Reps where 435 memebers will make their voices known and changes will be sought. If changed in the House it has to go back to the Senate. As you can see it is a LONG way from ever becoming law. Circumstances in the States, like what happened in Boston, and any number of things can and will affect the future of this bill. Remember their is a looming budget battle coming this summer and Obamacare is looking worse and worse as implimentation is getting closer. The economy isnt getting better and these issues effect all Americans the immigration bill affects 11+ million, less than 5% of the population in the USA. Which issue do you think may take a back seat? i know those 11+ million are anxious but the reality is there are more important issues to most of the almost 400 million Americans and that is who the Senators and Reps will be lisitening to as an election year gears up this summer......just the reality of it

Anonymous said...

This is not something new. There was an immigration provision for long-term alien workers in CNRA or Public law 110-229 when federal gov't federalized CNMI's immigration system to provide green card or U.S citizen ship to foreigners in CNMI who have been for at least 5 years. Former governor was able to remove it by some culprits in Washington D.C, Now there is no choise for CNMI when undocumented alien workers in US mainland are offered to have LPR and a path to U.S citizenship. Mr. Gregorio Kilili Sablan played a great role to add CNMI into US immigration reform bill and having a proven double standard in the new provision for long-term alien workers. I agree with Mr. Kilili,"Something is better than nothing". But the methot used in the provision will be a history for the CNMI. Human dignity was not properly considered in the new immigration provision.

Anonymous said...

Wendy: Im confused with the definition of long-term legal residents in Sec.2109. In (B) (V), it includes the persons with Status of long-term investor under NMI immigration law for at least 5 years before May 8,2008 and is presently resident under E2 C status ?

the patriot said...

6:48 "IT'S A LOLLYPOPS TO ALL THE POOR AND CHEATED ALIENS"

Actually the transitional regs have given 5 years to file suit for back wages, but if the company is gone, then get in line with the rest of us, it is no immigration status.

As to the multiple questions of:

"i have been in saipan since 1989(over 25 years) , i'm holding E2C"

This has been asked and answered 100's of times at forums with the same consistant answer. The E2C is a transitional investor visa that gives aliens an opportunity to tranition to a US investor visa until late 2014 or restructure their businesses and move. IT IS NOT A WORKER IMMIGRATION STATUS NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS ANYONE WAS HERE

Anonymous said...

E-2 Visa: CNMI-Only Investor

The CNMI-Only Investor (E-2) visa classification allows foreign, long-term investors to remain lawfully present in the CNMI through December 2014 while they resolve their immigration status. This classification is intended to help as the CNMI transitions from the CNMI permit system to U.S. immigration laws.

What is the CNMI-only E-2 nonimmigrant investor status?

The rule establishes a transitional status that does not exist anywhere else in the United States to temporarily resolve the immigration status of long-term investors in the CNMI by allowing foreign long-term investors to obtain status to reside in the CNMI through December 2014.

Why is this category temporary?

The CNRA only provided for this status during the transition period. The E-2 CNMI Investor status is intended to help with the transition to U.S. immigration law in the CNMI. These investors are required to obtain another U.S. immigrant or nonimmigrant visa classifications by the end of the transition period, or December 31, 2014.

What happens at the end of the transition period?

At the end of 2014, the transition period will expire and the E-2 CNMI investor status and visa will expire. Therefore, individuals in the CNMI with E-2 CNMI status must depart the CNMI at the end of the transition period or qualify for and obtain another nonimmigrant or immigrant status in order to lawfully remain in the CNMI.

Will any extensions of the transition period, as determined by the Secretary of Labor, affect eligibility for the CNMI-only investor visas?

No. The CNMI-only investor status ends at the end of the transition period. Any extension by the Secretary of Labor will apply only to the CNMI transitional worker category. As mandated by the CNRA, the investor provisions will terminate on December 31, 2014, regardless of whether an extension to the transitional worker provision occurs.

What are the requirements for a US investor visa, EB-5?

Capital Investment Requirements

Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.

Required minimum investments are:

• General. The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
• Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.

Job Creation Requirements:

• Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
• Create or preserve either direct or indirect jobs:
Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.

Note: Investors may only be credited with preserving jobs in a troubled business.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, sorry it is out of the topic. Is it true that USCIS stops granting humanitarian parole for a parents of a us citizen childred? Also, two of my friends went to USCIS office to inquire and were told that if you have a CW-1 status, you cannot go down to humanitarian parole. This is my problem now, my employer gave me a termination letter with the reason that the business is very slow so they dont need me although my CW1 permit expires on November 2013. I went to Ombudsman to ask some help but I was told that I better find an employer because he said there are many who were denied for humanitarian parole even they have US citizen children. I am still looking for an employer but 30 days is almost gone.

Wendy Doromal said...

2:05 and 2:56 Thank you for the information about the investor visas.

4:31 I would follow the advice of the ombudsman or hire an attorney. The ombudsman knows the laws and policies.

Wendy Doromal said...

2:05 said, "Actually the transitional regs have given 5 years to file suit for back wages, but if the company is gone, then get in line with the rest of us, it is no immigration status."

The CNMI and US governments failed the nonresident workers as far as back pay collection. It would take a chapter to outline the history, the inaction of both governments, the failure to change laws to stop the routine practice, the illegal recruitment and other schemes, etc. Cheated nonresident workers have a right to be angry about the blatant and consistent wage theft and the inaction of the CNMI and US Governments to stop the practice and make them whole. The burden should not be on an employee to collect, especially since those who have not been paid have no money to hire attorneys. Wage theft should be considered a criminal act and employers who steal should be arrested, fined and serve jail time if found guilty. If the US is going to bring in foreign workers it needs to ensure that employers treat them fairly and pay them what they are owed. Laws are weak and favor the abuser who can merely declare bankruptcy. Too many people have had their lives ruined in the CNMI under the watchful eyes of the US Government. There is no excuse. We are not talking about a few cases. Shame on the criminal employers, the CNMI Government and the US Government.

Anonymous said...

I think this cnmi provision is ridiculous. It should cover all the legal aliens who have been here since 2003.

Anonymous said...

We have to abide by the LAWS of any country were we are specially if we are not from that country but for GOD sake GIVE us what we deserve with all due respect.

Anonymous said...

Wendy: I fully appreciate 2:05 and 2:56's explanation, especially for 2:56's strong political theory. But it still remains me confused with the DEFINATION OF LONG TERM RESIDENTS IN 2109. The connotation of the WORD "RESODENTS" should cover all the legal aliens.The CNRA not only let E2C MUST DEPART, but can TRANSFER TO ANOTHER STATUS. It really depends on the law makers. I hope the extension of RESIDENTS can be changed to AS A LEGAL ALIEN in the final provision, which will be more logic, more humanitarian. Thank you for providing such stage to exchange personal ideas.

Anonymous said...

Wendy: I fully appreciate 2:05 and 2:56's explanation, especially for 2:56's strong political theory. But it still remains me confused with the DEFINATION OF LONG TERM RESIDENTS IN 2109. The connotation of the WORD "RESODENTS" should cover all the legal aliens.The CNRA not only let E2C MUST DEPART, but can TRANSFER TO ANOTHER STATUS. It really depends on the law makers. I hope the extension of RESIDENTS can be changed to AS A LEGAL ALIEN in the final provision, which will be more logic, more humanitarian. Thank you for providing such stage to exchange personal ideas.

Anonymous said...

Wendy: I fully appreciate 2:05 and 2:56's explanation, especially for 2:56's strong political theory. But it still remains me confused with the DEFINATION OF LONG TERM RESIDENTS IN 2109. The connotation of the WORD "RESODENTS" should cover all the legal aliens.The CNRA not only let E2C MUST DEPART, but can TRANSFER TO ANOTHER STATUS. It really depends on the law makers. I hope the extension of RESIDENTS can be changed to AS A LEGAL ALIEN in the final provision, which will be more logic, more humanitarian. Thank you for providing such stage to exchange personal ideas.

somber news said...

Immigrants would also have to pay $2,000 in fines and hundreds more in fees along the bill's 13-year path to citizenship, and meet income and employment requirements designed to ensure they have resources above 125 percent of the federal poverty line and won't need to draw on public welfare programs.

Advocates said the policies taken together could exclude hundreds of thousands or even a million or more of the 11 million immigrants here illegally.

"We're very concerned that what the bill does is it punishes people for being poor," Appleby said.

And House support for this Senate bill is unlikely.

Wendy Doromal said...

8:44 Under the Senate legislation undocumented immigrants would pay fines, qualifying CNMI legal nonresidents would not. The House will introduce its own legislation and the final bill will likely be a compromise of both versions.

All the latest news stories state that immigration reform is advancing and Obama is confident.