Form I-129CW – Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker for the United States

1. What is Form I-129CW used for?

Form I-129CW is used for petitioning for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker for the United States. This form is specifically designed for employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) who wish to hire nonimmigrant workers under the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program. The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program allows employers in CNMI to petition for nonimmigrant workers to fill temporary employment positions that would otherwise be difficult to fill with U.S. workers. This program has specific eligibility requirements and is limited to employers in CNMI. The Form I-129CW allows employers to petition for authorization to employ eligible nonimmigrant workers in CNMI for a specified period.

2. Who is eligible to file Form I-129CW?

Those eligible to file Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker for the United States, include employers seeking to employ foreign workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in transitional worker positions. Specifically, eligible individuals must meet the following criteria:

1. The employer must have a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and be doing business in the CNMI.
2. The position offered must be transitional and fall within the eligible occupational categories designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
3. The foreign worker must have been lawfully present in the CNMI as of November 28, 2009.

Filing Form I-129CW allows employers in the CNMI to petition for nonimmigrant workers to fill temporary positions during the transitional period as the CNMI’s immigration system aligns with U.S. immigration law.

3. What is the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program?

The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program is a provision under U.S. immigration law that allows employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to petition for temporary nonimmigrant workers. This program was established to address the unique economic and labor market needs of the CNMI as it transitioned to the U.S. immigration system. To participate in this program, employers must file Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program is designed specifically for employers in the CNMI and is separate from other nonimmigrant worker programs in the United States. Transitioning workers must meet certain eligibility criteria and must be sponsored by an employer who can demonstrate a genuine need for their services in the CNMI.

4. What are the requirements to petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker?

En Español, el formulario I-129CW – Petición para Trabajador No Inmigrante de Transición Solo en las Islas del Norte de Mariana – es utilizado para solicitar un trabajador no inmigrante en el ámbito de la transición de las Islas del Norte de Mariana. Esta petición debe cumplir con ciertos requisitos para ser aprobada por el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos (USCIS). Algunos de los requisitos clave para presentar una petición exitosa incluyen:

1. El empleador debe estar registrado y autorizado para hacer negocios en las Islas del Norte de Mariana.
2. El trabajador debe haber estado empleado en las Islas del Norte de Mariana en un periodo continuo de al menos 5 años antes del 28 de noviembre de 2009.
3. El trabajador debe poseer una oferta de empleo válido de un empleador en las Islas del Norte de Mariana.
4. El empleador debe demostrar la necesidad de contratar al trabajador no inmigrante debido a la falta de trabajadores locales cualificados.

Cumplir con estos requisitos es fundamental para garantizar que la petición sea aprobada y que el trabajador califique como un trabajador no inmigrante de transición en las Islas del Norte de Mariana.

5. What is the filing fee for Form I-129CW?

The filing fee for Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, is subject to change as per the current fee schedule set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As of 2021, the standard filing fee for Form I-129CW is $460. It is essential to verify the most recent fee amount on the USCIS official website or by contacting USCIS directly before submitting the petition to ensure accurate payment. Additionally, applicants should always check for any exceptions or waivers that may apply to their specific situation to avoid any delays or issues with their petition processing.

6. Are there any restrictions on the type of work that a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can do?

Yes, there are restrictions on the type of work that a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can do. The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program allows nonimmigrant foreign workers to be employed in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for a specific period. However, there are limitations on the occupations eligible for this program.

1. CNMI-Only Transitional Workers are limited to certain industries such as hospitality, healthcare, construction, and certain other sectors identified by the CNMI government.
2. Workers under this program are not allowed to work in occupations that are designated as ineligible by the CNMI Department of Labor.
3. The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program aims to address the specific labor needs of the CNMI, and as such, the types of jobs available to transitional workers are tailored to those needs.

These restrictions are in place to ensure that the program serves its intended purpose of supporting the CNMI economy while also protecting the job opportunities of U.S. workers in the region.

7. How long does it take to process Form I-129CW?

The processing time for Form I-129CW, which is the petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker for the United States, can vary depending on a variety of factors. On average, the processing time for this form can range from several weeks to several months. However, there are some steps you can take to help expedite the process:

1. Submitting a complete and error-free application can help speed up the process. Ensure that all required documentation is included and that the form is filled out accurately.

2. Paying the required fees on time can also help prevent any delays in processing your petition.

3. In cases where additional information or documentation is requested by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), providing the requested materials promptly can help move the process along more quickly.

It is important to note that USCIS processing times are subject to change, so it’s a good idea to regularly check their website for updates on processing times for Form I-129CW.

8. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker bring their dependents to the CNMI?

1. Yes, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can bring their dependents to the CNMI under certain circumstances. Dependents such as spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible to accompany or join the transitional worker in the CNMI. The dependent family members would need to apply for the appropriate derivative status, typically through a dependent visa application process. It is essential to carefully review the specific regulations and requirements regarding the admission of dependents for CNMI-Only Transitional Workers to ensure compliance with the relevant immigration laws and procedures.

2. The process for bringing dependents to the CNMI may involve submitting additional documentation and forms in support of the dependent visa applications. These documents may include proof of the relationship between the transitional worker and the dependent family members, as well as evidence of financial support and the ability to provide for the dependents during their stay in the CNMI. Working with an experienced immigration attorney or advisor can help navigate the complexities of bringing dependents to the CNMI and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to facilitate their lawful entry and residence in the CNMI while the transitional worker is employed in the region.

9. What is the validity period of stay for a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker?

The validity period of stay for a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can vary depending on the specific terms approved in their Form I-129CW petition. Generally, the maximum initial period of stay granted is 1 year. However, extensions may be granted in increments of up to 2 years, with the total period of stay not exceeding a maximum of 5 years from the date of the approval of the initial petition. It is essential for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker to maintain compliance with the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant status throughout their authorized stay to avoid any issues with their legal status in the CNMI.

10. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker change employers?

1. Yes, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can change employers under certain conditions. When a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker wants to change employers, the new employer must file a new Form I-129CW petition with the USCIS on behalf of the worker. The new petition must include all the required documentation and fees, similar to the initial petition filed by the original employer. Once the new petition is approved, the worker can transfer employment to the new employer for the remainder of their authorized stay in the CNMI.

2. It’s essential to note that the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker is tied to the specific employer who filed the initial petition on their behalf. Therefore, changing employers requires following the proper procedures to ensure compliance with immigration regulations. Failure to do so could result in immigration violations and potentially jeopardize the worker’s legal status in the CNMI. It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or legal expert familiar with CNMI-specific regulations to navigate the process smoothly.

11. What happens if a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker loses their job?

When a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker loses their job, their employer is legally required to notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 3 business days. The worker then has a 10-day grace period to find a new job or depart from the United States. If the individual is unable to secure new employment within this time frame, they must leave the country to maintain compliance with the terms of their CNMI-Only Transitional Worker status. Failure to depart in a timely manner could result in being deemed out of status and subject to removal from the United States. Additionally, the individual may be ineligible for future visa applications or entry into the United States if they overstay their authorized period of stay. It is important for CNMI-Only Transitional Workers to be aware of these regulations and take prompt action in the event of job loss to avoid potential immigration consequences.

12. Is there a cap on the number of CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visas issued?

1. Yes, there is a cap on the number of CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visas that are issued each fiscal year. The cap is set by the U.S. Congress and is subject to change based on various factors such as economic conditions and labor demands in the CNMI.

2. The current cap for CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visas is set at 13,000 per fiscal year. This cap includes both initial visas and renewals. Once the cap is reached, USCIS will not approve any more petitions for CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visas until the following fiscal year, unless certain exemptions apply.

3. It is important for employers and foreign workers to be aware of this cap and plan accordingly when seeking to obtain CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visas. It is recommended to submit petitions as early as possible in the fiscal year to increase the chances of approval before the cap is reached.

13. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker apply for permanent residency?

No, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker cannot directly apply for permanent residency (green card) through the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa category (CW-1 visa). The CW-1 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa program specifically created for employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to hire foreign workers for transitional periods. The visa holders are allowed to work in the CNMI for a limited period and do not provide a direct pathway to permanent residency. However, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker may be eligible for other immigrant visa categories or paths to permanent residency, such as employment-based green cards, family-based green cards, or other visa programs outside of the CNMI-specific visa category. It is important for CNMI-Only Transitional Workers seeking permanent residency to explore other immigration options and consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on the best pathway forward.

14. What are the consequences of violating the terms of a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa?

Violating the terms of a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa can have serious consequences for the visa holder. Some of the potential repercussions include:

1. Visa Revocation: If the terms of the visa are violated, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may revoke the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa.

2. Deportation: Violating the terms of the visa could result in the individual being subject to deportation from the CNMI and potentially from the United States.

3. Bar from Reentry: Individuals who violate the terms of their CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa may be barred from reentering the CNMI or the United States in the future.

4. Legal Penalties: In some cases, there may be legal ramifications for violating the terms of the visa, including fines or other penalties.

5. Impact on Future Immigration Applications: A violation of visa terms could negatively impact any future applications for immigration benefits in the United States.

It is crucial for visa holders to fully understand and comply with the terms of their CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa to avoid these serious consequences.

15. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker travel outside the CNMI while on this visa?

Yes, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can travel outside the CNMI while on this visa under certain conditions:

1. The employee must maintain their employment with the approved employer and continue to comply with all the requirements of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker visa while traveling.
2. The employer must provide documentation confirming the ongoing employment relationship, including the dates and purpose of the travel.
3. The employee should also ensure that their visa and Form I-94 remain valid for reentry into the CNMI upon their return from travel outside the CNMI.

It is essential for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker to adhere to all visa regulations and maintain compliance while traveling outside the CNMI to avoid any issues with reentry or visa status.

16. What is the difference between a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker and other nonimmigrant visa categories?

The primary difference between a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker visa and other nonimmigrant visa categories lies in its exclusivity and unique eligibility requirements.

1. Geographic Limitation: The CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker visa is specifically designed for foreign workers seeking employment solely within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), distinguishing it from other nonimmigrant visas that apply to the entire United States or specific states.

2. Transition Period: This visa category was created to facilitate the CNMI’s transition from the former CNMI foreign worker permit system to the federal U.S. immigration system. It serves as a temporary measure to address the labor needs of the CNMI during this transition period.

3. Limited Availability: The CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker visa is available only to certain categories of foreign workers in the CNMI, such as those employed in industries critical to the CNMI’s economy, including hospitality and construction. Other nonimmigrant visas have broader eligibility criteria and categories.

4. Duration and Renewal: The CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker visa has a limited duration and may be renewed under certain conditions specific to the CNMI’s unique circumstances. Other nonimmigrant visa categories may have different validity periods and renewal processes.

Overall, the CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker visa is tailored to address the specific needs and circumstances of the CNMI economy during its transitional phase, making it distinct from other nonimmigrant visa categories that have broader applicability across the United States.

17. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker apply for a Green Card?

A CNMI-Only Transitional Worker is a nonimmigrant category specific to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). As of now, CNMI-Only Transitional Workers are not eligible to directly apply for a Green Card, also known as lawful permanent residency in the United States. However, there are pathways available for CNMI-Only Transitional Workers who wish to obtain permanent residency.

1. Family Sponsorship: A CNMI-Only Transitional Worker may be able to obtain a Green Card through sponsorship by a qualifying family member who is either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

2. Employment-Based Green Cards: If the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker’s employer is willing to sponsor them for a Green Card under an eligible employment-based category, they may be able to transition from nonimmigrant status to permanent residency.

3. Special Categories: In some cases, there may be specific programs or provisions that allow CNMI-Only Transitional Workers to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or legal expert for guidance on the most appropriate pathway for obtaining a Green Card as a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker.

18. Are there any specific job categories that are eligible for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program?

Yes, there are specific job categories that are eligible for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program. These categories are defined by the CNMI Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and include, but are not limited to:

1. Jobs in the hospitality industry such as hotel staff, restaurant servers, and bartenders.
2. Positions in the healthcare sector including nurses, medical technicians, and caregivers.
3. Construction-related jobs like carpenters, electricians, and plumbers.
4. Jobs in the agricultural sector such as farm workers and agricultural technicians.

Employers seeking to hire workers in these eligible job categories under the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program must submit a Form I-129CW petition to the USCIS for approval. It is essential for both employers and prospective employees to ensure that the job position falls within the designated categories to qualify for this program.

19. Can a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker extend their stay in the CNMI?

Yes, a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker can extend their stay in the CNMI under certain conditions. Here are the key points to consider:

1. The employer must file a petition for extension on behalf of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker. This petition should be submitted using Form I-129CW to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

2. The extension must be filed before the worker’s current status expires to maintain lawful status in the CNMI.

3. The employer must demonstrate that there is a continued need for the worker’s services and that the terms and conditions of employment remain the same.

4. The extension period granted will generally be for the same duration as the initial period of stay, but exceptions may be made based on the circumstances of the case.

5. It is essential to follow all USCIS guidelines and requirements when applying for an extension to ensure a smooth process and avoid any issues with legal status in the CNMI.

Overall, CNMI-Only Transitional Workers can extend their stay in the CNMI by following the proper procedures and meeting the necessary eligibility criteria.

20. What are the key documents required to submit along with Form I-129CW for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker petition?

When submitting Form I-129CW for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker petition, it is essential to include various key documents to support the application process effectively. The required documents include, but are not limited to:

1. The original, signed Form I-129CW petition itself, filled out completely and accurately.
2. A letter from the employer in the CNMI providing detailed information about the job offer and the prospective employee’s qualifications.
3. Proof of the employer’s legitimacy and ability to pay the offered wage, such as financial statements or tax returns.
4. Documentation demonstrating that the position qualifies under the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program.
5. Evidence of the employee’s qualifications for the offered position, including educational certificates, work experience letters, and any necessary licenses or certifications.
6. Any relevant supporting documents required by the specific occupation or industry, as outlined by USCIS guidelines.

Submitting a comprehensive package with all the necessary documents is crucial to ensure a smooth processing of the petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker. It is advisable to carefully review the official instructions provided by USCIS and consult with an immigration attorney if needed to ensure all required documentation is included and in the correct format.