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USCIS Ends Humanitarian Parole Program for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

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.

Other recent attempts by the Administration to eliminate humanitarian parole programs, such as DACA and TPS, have been held up by litigation.

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.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019


About this Author

Forrest G. Read IV, Immigration, Employment, Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law Firm

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has special expertise in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read's immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and...