CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program Puts Nonresident Workers in Danger

October 1, 2013

The USCIS released some statistics on the processing of CW permits, including:
Out of the 10,491 initial CW permits issued to date, 7,182 renewal applications have been submitted
5,774 or 80 percent have so far been approved 
93 or 1 percent have been denied
6,482 initial I-129CW petitions filed by 1,954 employers covered 12,439 workers
From Oct. 7, 2011, through Sept. 17, 2013, USCIS approved 5,405 initial petitions consisting of 10,491 beneficiaries or workers
734 initial petitions covering 1,281 employees were denied
Statistics tell numbers and the application processing time, but they do not show the uncertainty, hardships and instability that the nonresident workers suffer as they wait for the permits and renewals to be processed.

According to the nonresident workers, the length of time estimated to process renewals is at least three months. It took over a year for USCIS to process many many of the initial CW applications.

This system is not working for some CW employees. If their employers are slow to file their CW renewal applications then the CW workers and their families are thrown into hopeless situations. The nonresident workers are not allowed to work without permits. Without work they cannot pay their rent, buy food or pay their bills. Those with families are especially concerned about surviving for three or more months with no salaries.

A message that I received this week highlights the dire situation of nonresident workers who have employers who waited until the last minute to file renewals. Some reportedly waited only days or weeks before the expiration of the original CW permits to submit the renewal paperwork.

The nonresident worker stated:
Is there a freedom or justice for this group of long-term alien workers in CNMI whose CW-1 applications for renewal remained pending for approval with USCIS, California Service Center? Employers already gave them a notice to stay off the work schedule until they receive new CW-1 approval notices from USCIS office. This group of alien workers is suffering now economically, mentally and physically. Neither their employers or CNMI or Fed agency are helping them with some sort of compensation to stay and live. They are facing difficulties losing rental home and getting sick due to lack of foods or money. 
US Public Law-110-229 or CNRA really puts this group of alien workers in danger. This group of alien workers is not eligible to receive food stamp under CNMI law. Alien workers with US citizen children are also not eligible to receive food stamp because parents are unable to produce “USCIS approval notice to NAP”. 
Is CNMI governor Mr. Inos or CNMI-Washington DC Rep Mr. Kilili aware of this? Where can they get some assistance in these situations? . . .
While I agree that the CNMI Governor and the CNMI Delegate should be aware of this, I am not sure that they are.

Both of these elected officials supported closing the Federal Ombudsman Office. Ask yourself, who would support closing an office that assists nonresident workers, an office that had already received the funding from the 2014 budget, an office that costs the CNMI nothing?  Could it be because the office pointed out the flaws with the poorly planned and run CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program that CNMI elected officials and business leaders support and want to continue for another 5 years? This is the guest worker program that provides the cheap, disposable labor that fills about 80% of all private sector jobs; the program that keeps legal, longterm nonresident workers permanently disenfranchised and denies them of any opportunities for an upgrade in status.

Not allowing CW nonresidents workers the ability to keep working while renewal permits are being processed is extremely unstable for the workers and their families. Additionally, it negatively impacts the CNMI economy. Consider that these nonresidents will be unable to pay their landlords, the CUC, their cell phone companies, buy gas, purchase food or seek medical care for three or more months.

What if the landlords kick out the tenants who cannot pay their rent?  Is the CNMI or Federal Governments prepared to deal with homeless CW workers and their families?

What about the employers? Do they shut their doors until permits are issued?

All U.S. Citizen Children are Eligible for Food Stamps Regardless of Their Parents' Immigration Status

Additionally, we should be concerned with the allegation that the CNMI NAP Office is illegally requiring the nonresident parents of U.S. citizen children to provide documentation of their status! I notified federal officials in March 2012 when the CNMI food stamp office illegally denied U.S. children of nonresident workers food stamps. I am prepared to notify them again.

If any nonresident worker goes to the CNMI NAP Office and is denied food stamps for their U.S. citizen children please tell them that they are violating federal law and contact me at


Anonymous said...

the CW visa is temporary. people need to be planning to leave when the CW program ends one year from now. There is no promise that en employer has to renew a CW and if he does or doesnt isnt anyones problem. the contract workers should already be planning what they are going to do when their CW ends. None of the CWs were meant to be permenant and everyone knew that nobody in the Fed Gov promised them otherwise. What would the former Ombudsmans office been able to do about USCIS processing apps or private employers decide when and who to file for??? getting involved in that stuff got the office closed and the ombuds fired.

Wendy Doromal said...

I really do not care what the law states. If it was a just, humane and fair guest worker program ALL LEGAL long term nonresident workers would be granted a pathway to citizenship. This program is not humane. It treats people not as valued and needed community members but as disposable commodities. The ombudsman office closed because ignorant people made an ignorant decision. What would it have done? It would assist with referrals for desperate nonresidents to get food and shelter etc. Perhaps you would like to help those in need? Perhaps they could call the Delegate's office? Maybe the Governor wants to help? After all the OIA listed them as agencies that help no residents in their letter defending closing the office. Anyway, your lack of empathy and concern is striking.

Anonymous said...

5:35 I feel sorry for you and your Voldemort personality.

Anonymous said...

5:35 am
I respect your opinions but it seems like they are one sided. I'm thinking you are also an alien before but for what ever reason you,re now with status so you're already sending aliens to their origin country indirectly. You seems to know a lot but you did not know the FACT that if Saipan is a US soil as some people say, then I think US law will be applied here. I repeat, If saipan is considered US SOIL, then US LAWS must be applied hear, THAT IF A NON US CITIZEN ENTERS US SOIL LEGALLY AND AND STAYS THERE IN 5 CONSECUTIVE YEARS, THAT CITIZEN CAN ALREADY APPLIED FOR A CHANGE OF STATUS LIKE GREEN CARD OR PERMANENT RESIDENCE. You are just like SOME LOCALS here who says "You came here to work and your work is done so you GO HOME NOW" while the Government is doing almost everything specially Congressman G. Kilili to extend the transition period for 5 years for the contract workers because saipan needed us very badly even saying that without us, saipan's economy will collapse. By the way, We came here came here because we were INVITED by the CNMI government to come here to work and continouslly renewed because saipan still NEEDS us up to this very moment, just to let you know if you don't know, God Bless You.

Anonymous said...

5:35 The ombudsman did not get fired. The DOI closed the office (big mistake). Pam should run for Washington Delegate.

Anonymous said...

The former Ombuds has worn way too many hats in the CNMI. Being former AG for the immensly corrupt Juan Babauta administration does NOT qualify her for being a delegate. The Ombuds office over stepped their boundries so many times the Feds said enough.