USCIS announced that, effective immediately, it is terminating yet another humanitarian parole program. This one is for individuals living in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This move will affect, among others:
- Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens;
- Certain “stateless” individuals;
- Immediate relatives of CNMI permanent residents; and
- Certain in-home foreign worker caregivers of CNMI residents.
This is how the transition will take place:
- Upon expiration of authorization, USCIS will not renew any CNMI parole.
- However, to ensure an orderly wind-down, there will be a 180-day transitional period and extension of employment authorization, where applicable, but in no event will parole extend beyond June 29, 2019.
- Current parolees with requests for extensions of status and work authorization pending will receive letters granting 180 days of transitional parole. These letters will serve as evidence of work authorization.
CNMI, with about 50,000 inhabitants, is a 14-island archipelago in the Pacific, north of Guam, and over 3,000 miles from Honolulu. At the conclusion of World War II, the U.S., pursuant to a U.N. Security Council Resolution, administered the area, which had been under Japanese rule, as a trusteeship. In 1977, the Islands obtained U.S. commonwealth status. In 1986, Article III citizenship was extended to certain residents of CNMI. Then in 2008, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) began extending most U.S. immigration law to CNMI. In 2009, the U.S. began granting humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis to CNMI inhabitants who found themselves ineligible for other U.S. statuses. This group included spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens. In 2011, the current parole program was instituted.
Despite the termination of CNMI parole, foreign nationals in H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrant classifications who are admitted to perform labor and services in CNMI (and Guam) will continue to be exempt from the H-1B and H-2B caps.