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CNMI E-2 Nonimmigrant Status For Foreign Nationals With Long-Term Investor Status<br/>Questions & Answers
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a final rule in the Federal Register that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The “E-2 CNMI Investor Visa” allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014 and is intended to help with the transition to U.S. immigration law in the CNMI. This final rule implements one of the CNMI-specific provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, which extends the immigration laws of the United States to the CNMI.
The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA), Public Law 110-229 was signed into law on May 8, 2008. Title VII of this law extends the immigration laws of the United States to the CNMI. One provision of the CNRA authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to classify, during the transition period, an foreign investor in the CNMI as an E-2 nonimmigrant investor. This transition period formally began on Nov. 28, 2009 and is set to end on December 31, 2014. Accordingly, USCIS’s rule allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014 in CNMI E-2 nonimmigrant investor status. This rule temporarily resolves the immigration status of long-term investors in the CNMI and provides them time in which to obtain another lawful immigration status under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). As with other immigration benefits, individuals must apply for E-2 CNMI Investor status.
Questions and Answers
Q1. Why did USCIS create this rule?
Q2. What is the CNMI-only E-2 nonimmigrant investor status?
A2. The rule establishes a transitional status that does not exist anywhere else in the United States to temporarily resolve the immigration status of long-term investors in the CNMI by allowing foreign long-term investors to obtain status to reside in the CNMI through December 2014.
Q3. Why is this category temporary?
Q4. What forms of work authorization are investors currently using in the CNMI?
Q5. What are the existing foreign investor requirements under the INA?
To qualify for E-2 treaty investor status, treaty investors must:
Q6. What happens at the end of the transition period?
Q7. When does the transition period end?
Q8. Will any extensions of the transition period, as determined by the Secretary of Labor, affect eligibility for the CNMI-only investor visas?
Q9. What nonimmigrant or immigrant statuses can investors in the CNMI apply for?
Q10. What happens to dependents of CNMI E-2 Investors during the transition period?
Upon the end of the transition period, spouses and children also will be subject to the same regulations as other immigrants. For example, if the E-2 CNMI Investor qualifies for a change of status to regular E-2 status at the end of the transition period, his or her dependents would have to apply for a change of status as well and qualify under those statutory and regulatory provisions.
Q11. Who qualifies for the CNMI-only "E-2" nonimmigrant investor visa?
Q12. Which current CNMI investor statuses qualify?
Q13. How did USCIS decide which categories will qualify under the final rule?
Q14. How many people are currently in these three CNMI long-term investor categories?
Q15. Which CNMI Investor categories are not eligible for E-2 CNMI Investor status under the rule?
Q16. Why is the sub-category of the retiree investor specifically limited to Japanese retirees not eligible for E-2 investor status?
Q17. What can these Japanese retirees do once their permit expires?
Q18. Why are individuals with short-term and regular-term business entry permits not eligible for E-2 investor status?
Q19. If individuals with short-term and regular-term business entry permits are not eligible for an E-2 CNMI Investor visa, what can they do?
Q20. Will foreigners who had pending CNMI Investor applications on November 28, 2009, be eligible for the new E-2 CNMI Investor status?
Q21. Is an individual with an approved investor application eligible for E-2 CNMI Investor status?
Q22. What does the E-2 CNMI Investor visa requirement “continuous maintenance of residence” mean? What if an investor travels regularly outside CNMI?
Q23. Can an investor lose his or her status?
Q24. What evidence must an applicant for E-2 CNMI Investor provide?
All individuals must provide the following evidence of lawful admission to the CNMI:
Individuals with a CNMI-issued foreign investor entry permit or long-term business entry permit
An applicant with a CNMI-issued foreign investor entry permit or long-term business entry permit must submit evidence to show that he or she has maintained his or her investment with the E-2 CNMI Investor application. This evidence could include:
For the holder of a certificate of foreign investment, copies of annual reports of investment activities in the CNMI showing that the certificate holder is under continuing compliance with the standards required. Each report must be accompanied by an annual financial audit report performed by an independent certified public accountant.
Individuals with a CNMI-issued retiree investor permit
Q25. When can individuals apply for E-2 CNMI Investor status?
Q26. What is the final date that initial petitions will be accepted for the E-2 CNMI Investor visa?
Q27. What application must be submitted for the E-2 CNMI Investor visa?
Q28. What is the cost of the application?
Q29. Where should I file the application?
You must be present in the CNMI or outside the United States at the time your application is filed with USCIS. If you are outside the United States upon approval, you will need to obtain an E-2 CNMI Investor nonimmigrant visa at a United States Embassy or consulate abroad to be admitted to the CNMI as an E-2 CNMI Investor.
Q31. Why does the rule permit a fee waiver for an “investor” who would have to make a relatively significant monetary investment to qualify for the visa?
Applicants in the CNMI who are applying for an initial grant of status must also submit the biometric service fee. This fee is waivable for inability to pay under current USCIS regulations.
Q32. What can I do if my application is denied?
Q33. Does immigration status extend to dependents of E-2 CNMI Investors?
Q34. How does a dependent (a spouse or child) obtain derivative E-2 CNMI Investor status?
Q35. For how long is the E-2 CNMI Investor visa valid?
Q36. What happens to dependents if an E-2 CNMI Investor temporarily departs from the CNMI?
Q37. How will work authorizations be handled?
The E-2 CNMI Investor principal’s work authorization is employer-specific incident to the E-2 CNMI Investor status, so the principal does not need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The investor’s passport and Form I-94 showing E-2 CNMI Investor status are acceptable forms of documentation to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, when commencing any new employment authorized under that status. A spouse must apply for an EAD, using Form I-765, in order to be granted employment authorization. If granted an EAD, the spouse may use it as evidence of identity and work authorization for Form I-9 purposes with any employer in the CNMI.
Q38. What happens if an individual changes employers without filing with USCIS?
Q39. May E-2 CNMI Investors apply for extensions?
Q40. What will be required for an extension of stay?
Q41. May an E-2 CNMI Investor travel elsewhere in the United States?
The procedure for how to receive USCIS approval in advance of the travel depends upon the E-2 CNMI Investor’s nationality and/or visa:
Q42. Can an E-2 CNMI Investor who is otherwise eligible for B visitor status (either with a valid B visa or VWP eligible) attempt to travel to or from another part of the United States through a foreign airport?
Q43. Could an E-2 CNMI Investor travel outside the United States and then return to the CNMI?
Q44. What is the process for obtaining a visa overseas?
Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/29/2012