January 2, 2016
The incompetence of USCIS in processing CW permits has impacted some businesses and about 800 nonresident workers in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
The Saipan Tribune reported that Truong's, Saipan's only Vietnamese restaurant was forced to close because of CW renewals were not processed. Other affected businesses include Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and the Maraina Resort and Spa.
The businesses met required deadlines to submit renewals for the nonresidents employees, yet permits that were set to expire on December 31, 2015 were not processed by USCIS by the deadline. By law, any nonresident worker whose permit is not renewed must stop working by the expiration date.
The idea that a person waiting for a CW permit to be renewed should stop working until the permit is in hand is unreasonable. This bureaucratic system does not consider that the businesses need the workers to stay open to make a profit and the workers need their jobs to survive. Has the USCIS considered that people will go without food and be put in positions where they could lose their homes because the bureaucratic agency could not process their papers in a timely manner?
Any system where people are regarded as faceless labor units is not a humane one. The system needs to be reformed. A grace period allowing CW workers to continue working for a specified period of time after the official expiration date of the permit would be one humane solution. Establishing a fully staffed USCIS Office on Saipan and processing permits there may be another solution.
The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands requested assistance from Representative Kilili Sablan regarding the non-processing of the permits.