Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA) extends U.S. immigration law to the CNMI and provides CNMI-specific provisions affecting foreign workers.
Consistent with this mandate under the CNRA, DHS published a final rule on September 7, 2011 amending the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(w) to implement a temporary, CNMI-only transitional worker nonimmigrant classification (CW classification, which includes CW-1 for principal workers and CW-2 for spouses and minor children).
The numerical limitations set forth in the final rule for the first two years of the CW classification provided a baseline for the maximum number of transitional workers in the CNMI.
The maximum number of CW-1 workers announced in this document (15,000) is appropriate based on the actual demonstrated need for foreign workers within the CNMI. In the final rule, DHS provided for an accurate assessment of the actual labor needs within the CNMI by setting a limit in the final rule that ensured an adequate supply of CW visas to test the labor market. Although DHS set the numerical limitation for fiscal year 2012 at 22,416, employers in the CNMI have filed only 5,985 Petitions for CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Workers (Form I-129 CW), requesting a total of 12,247 transitional workers.
All requests received to date were submitted during fiscal year 2012, as the final rule took effect shortly after the beginning of that fiscal year. USCIS has not completed adjudication of these requests but anticipates doing so before the end of the current calendar year. These requests, to the extent they are granted, will be counted under the fiscal year 2012 cap of 22,416. The vast majority of CW petitions were filed by CNMI employers in November 2011, shortly before the expiration of “grandfathered” CNMI work authorization on November 27, 2011.
The CNRA requires an annual reduction in the number of transitional workers (and complete elimination of the CW nonimmigrant classification by the end of the transition period) but does not mandate a specific reduction.
To comply with these requirements, meet the CNMI's labor market's needs, and provide opportunity for growth, DHS has set the numerical limitation for fiscal year 2013 at 15,000. DHS calculated this figure by first taking the number of CW-1 nonimmigrant workers needed based on fiscal year 2012 filings to date of 12,247 (or 11,927, taking into account 320 denials to date), which rounded to the nearest thousand is 12,000. DHS then added an additional 25 percent to the 12,000 to accommodate possible economic growth that might lead to a need for additional CW workers, for a total of 15,000. Accordingly, DHS reduces the number of transitional workers from the current fiscal year numerical limitation of 22,416, and establishes the maximum number of CW-1 visas available for fiscal year 2013 at 15,000.
This number of CW-1 workers will be available beginning on October 1, 2012. DHS may adjust the numerical limitation for a fiscal year or other period, in its discretion, at any time via notice in the
Petitions requesting a validity start date within fiscal year 2013 will be counted against the 15,000 limit. As such, each CW-1 worker who is listed on a Form I-129CW is counted against the numerical limitation at the time USCIS receives the petition. Counting the petitions in this manner will help ensure that USCIS does not approve requests for more than 15,000 CW-1 workers. If the number of CW-1 workers approaches the 15,000 limit, USCIS will hold any subsequently-filed petition until a final determination is made on the petitions that are already included in the numerical count. Subsequently-filed petitions will be forwarded for adjudication in the order in which they were received until USCIS has approved petitions for the maximum number of CW workers; any remaining petitions that were held or that are newly received will be rejected.
This document does not affect the status of aliens who hold CW-1 nonimmigrant status. Aliens currently holding such status, however, will be affected by this document when they apply for an extension of their CW-1 classification, or a change of status from another nonimmigrant status to CW-1 status.
This document does not affect the status of any alien currently holding CW-2 status as the spouse or minor child of a CW-1 nonimmigrant. This document also does not directly affect the ability of any alien to extend or otherwise obtain CW-2 status, as the numerical limitation applies to CW-1 principals only. Aliens seeking CW-2 status may be affected indirectly by the applicability of the cap to the CW-1 principals from whom their status is derived.