WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow up to 12,999 nonimmigrants in fiscal year (FY) 2016 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) program. DHS published the notice in today’s Federal Register.
Under the CW-1 program, employers in the CNMI can apply for temporary permission to employ foreign nationals who are ineligible for any existing employment-based nonimmigrant category under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The CW program is in effect until Dec. 31, 2019. DHS reduced the FY 2016 CW-1 limit by 1,000 to meet the CNMI’s existing labor market needs and provide opportunity for potential growth, while meeting a regulatory requirement to reduce the numerical limit each year.
Today’s announcement does not affect the status of current CW-1 workers unless their employer files for an extension of their current authorized period of stay. Approved petitions with an employment-start date between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016 will generally count towards the 12,999 limit. The numerical limit applies only to CW-1 principals. It does not directly affect anyone currently holding CW-2 status, which is for spouses and minor children of CW-1 nonimmigrants. However, CW-2 nonimmigrants may be indirectly affected because their status depends upon that of the principal CW-1.