If you are…
Petitioning for one or more workers who are lawfully present in the CNMI with a federal nonimmigrant status (e.g., F-1 or H-1B)...
Submit a Form I-129CW with the $325 application fee...
Submit a mandatory CNMI education funding fee of $150 per beneficiary. Do not submit a biometrics fee.
Petitioning for one or more workers who have been granted parole by USCIS or CBP (except as a visitor for business or pleasure from Russia or China)…
Submit a Form I-129CW with the $325 application fee…
Petitioning for one or more workers who are requesting consular processing abroad…
Submit a Form I-129CW with the $325 application fee…
Submit a mandatory CNMI education funding fee of $150 fee per beneficiary. Do not submit a biometrics fee. The Department of State may require a biometrics fee when the worker applies for his or her visa abroad.
Requesting an extension of status for a CW nonimmigrant worker…
Submit a Form I-129CW with the $325 application fee…
Submit a mandatory CNMI education funding fee of $150 fee per beneficiary. Do not submit a biometrics fee.
Q2. Can filing fees be waived?
A2. The Form I-129CW and biometrics filing fees may be waived in extraordinary situations where you demonstrate an inability to pay the filing fee but you are still able pay the employee’s wage. To request a fee waiver you must submit a Form I-912, Request for Individual Fee Waiver, or a written request for a fee waiver. The $150 CNMI education funding fee cannot be waived.
For more guidance about applying for a fee waiver, visit www.uscis.gov/feewaiver.
Q1. My petition was denied. How can I appeal?
A1. If you are the petitioning employer, you can appeal a denied CW-1 petition by filing a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. You can find this form at http://www.uscis.gov/i-290b. Only the petitioning employer, not an employee, may appeal the denial.
You can only appeal the denial of the petition for CW-1. You may not appeal the denial of an application for a grant or change of status, or an extension of status.
Q2. My CW status was denied because my employer made a mistake on my petition. What are my options?
A2. Your employer can appeal the decision and submit the correct information. Alternatively, your employer can submit a new petition. However, you are not authorized to remain in the CNMI after your CW-1 status expires.
Q3. If my employer files Form I-290B Notice of Appeal because my I-129CW was denied, am I allowed to continue working? Am I considered legally present while the appeal is pending adjudication?
A3. No. If your CW-1 status has expired, you are not considered lawfully present or authorized to continue working, even if you have a pending appeal.
Q4. If my CW petition is denied but another employer has filed a petition on my behalf, am I authorized to stay in the CNMI while the petition is pending?
A4. You may not work for the employer whose petition was denied. If your new employer filed a petition for you while you were in lawful CW-1 status for the previous employer, you are authorized to begin work for the new employer pending adjudication of the new employer’s petition
Q5. My CW renewal was denied. Can I obtain parole-in-place since my children were born in the United States, and may I stay in the CNMI until I receive a decision on my parole?
A5. No. You cannot apply for parole-in-place if you had CW status. If you had CW status or any other nonimmigrant status, you are not eligible to apply for or to receive parole in the CNMI, regardless of whether or not your nonimmigrant status has expired. Also, a pending request for parole does not authorize you to remain in the CNMI.
Q1. I have CW status. Can I be employed anywhere in the United States?
A1. No. CW status does not authorize you to work in any other state or territory of the United States, including the neighboring territory of Guam.
If you have CW-1 status, you may only work in the CNMI for the petitioning employer who filed the approved petition. The employer must file a new I-129CW petition if there are any material changes in the terms and conditions of your employment. If you have CW-2 status, you may not work in the CNMI or in any other state or territory of the United States.
Q2. I have CW-1 status. Can I change employers?
A2. Yes, but the new employer must file a Form I-129CW petition with USCIS. You may start work for the new employer as soon as the new employer files the petition. This must be a non-frivolous Form I-129CW petition for a change of employer, meaning that you are in CW-1 status at the time of filing, there is a real job offer, and you meet the qualifications of the job offer. If the petition is denied, the work authorization ends immediately.
Q3. I don’t have CW-1 status yet but have a pending CW-1 petition. Can I change employers and begin working for the new employer?
A3. Generally, you cannot work for a new employer until the CW-1 petition (I-129CW) filed by the new employer is approved.
Have no basis of lawful presence or work authorization…
Are in a parole status, but do not have a valid Employment Authorization Document…
Are in a parole status and have a valid Employment Authorization Document…
Q4. What should I do if I filed a pending I-129CW for an employee but my employee leaves his or her employment?
A4. You should notify USCIS of the employee’s termination and of your intention to withdraw the petition.
To notify USCIS of an employee’s termination, submit a letter signed by the employer indicating the employee’s termination and requesting to withdraw the petition.
Where to send it:
- Send a scanned copy of the letter via email to: CNMI.CSC@uscis.dhs.gov
- Mail the original letter to: USCIS, California Service Center, ATTN: CW-1, P.O. Box 10698, Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1098.
Please be sure to reference the number associated with the pending petition. This is the number on your receipt that begins with the letters “WAC.”
It is important that you notify USCIS of an employee’s termination and your withdrawal of the petition. Otherwise, you will still have responsibilities if the petition is approved.
- You would be responsible for notifying USCIS of any material change in the employee’s employment, including the fact that the employee has been terminated.
- You are responsible for the reasonable cost of return transportation of the employee to his or her home country if the petition is approved but the employee has been dismissed from employment for any reason.
Q5. Do I lose my CW status if I am terminated from employment?
A5. Yes, you will lose your CW nonimmigrant status if you violate any of the terms or conditions associated with that CW status.
However, when the violation is only caused by termination from employment, you will not be considered to have violated your status if, within 30 days from the date of termination, you obtain new employment and an employer files a non-frivolous petition on your behalf. This only applies if you do not violate any other terms or conditions of CW status.
- If you find new employment, your new employer must file a petition for you before the end of this 30-day period in order for you to remain lawfully present in the CNMI. You may only begin work with the new employer after that employer files the petition.
- If you cannot find new employment or your new employer does not file a new petition within 30 days, you must leave the CNMI and you will be considered to be out of status effective on the date of termination from CW-1 employment. Any petition filed for you after the 30-day period will require an approved petition and a CW visa issued at a U.S. Consulate outside the CNMI before you can return and start new employment in the CNMI.
Q6. When does the 30 day “grace period” apply?
A6. If you employment is terminated, you may remain in the CNMI for a period of 30 days to find new employment. If you find new employment, your new employer must file a non-frivolous petition for you before the end of the 30 day period. Details and conditions are found in the answer to Question 5 of this section.
Q7. How do I maintain my CW-1 status?
A7. CW-1 status expires at the end of the petition validity period, or if you violate status. Once the expiration date arrives, you are no longer in status.
To maintain CW-1 status, you must:
- Obey federal and CNMI laws;
- Continue to engage in the employment that is the basis of your grant of status; and
- Comply with the terms and conditions of your status, including not traveling or attempting to travel elsewhere in the United States without authorization.
Q9. I am nearing the end of my CW-1 work authorization period. How can I remain in status?
A9. To remain in status, your employer or a new employer must file a petition to extend your CW-1 status before it expires. You can also remain in status by seeking and obtaining another nonimmigrant or immigrant status.
Q10. What if I want to work for more than one employer?
A10. If you work for more than one employer while in CW-1 status, each employer must file a separate Form I-129CW with USCIS.
Q11. When being petitioned for a new CW-1 status after the expiration of a previously granted CW-1, why do some individuals receive split decisions and some receive denials?
A11. USCIS adjudicates each petition on its individual merit, so we may issue split decisions to some petitions and denials to other petitions.
While USCIS decides each case on its individual facts, we generally deny a petition if the employer does not establish its eligibility.
USCIS may issue a split decision if the employer is able to establish eligibility but there is a problem with the employee’s eligibility for an extension of status in the CNMI. In this situation, the employee can still seek CW status based on the employer’s approved petition but can only do so by obtaining a visa abroad and returning to the CNMI.
A split decision does not guarantee that the U.S. Department of State will find the employee admissible to the United States and approve the visa application abroad.
Q1. Which dependents are eligible for derivative CW-2 status?
A1. Spouses and minor children (children under 18 years of age) are eligible for derivative CW-2 status. Children over 18 years of age, parents, and other relatives are not eligible for CW-2 status.
Q2. How do my dependents apply to receive CW status?
A2. As derivative of your employer’s application for you to obtain CW-1 status, your dependents may apply for CW-2 status if they are lawfully present in the CNMI. Applicants for CW-2 status must submit:
- The $290 application fee;
- The $85 biometrics services fee, if applicable;
- A copy of your approval notice and Form I-94 documenting admission to the CNMI in the CW-1 classification (if available); and
- In some cases, Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Status.
Dependents may not need to file Form I-539, depending on how the primary CW-1 status is being processed.
You are requesting consular processing of your CW-1 status at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad…
Your dependents may also seek consular processing of their CW-2 status at the same time. Dependents do not need to file a Form I-539 if they file for CW status from outside the CNMI.
You are in the CNMI and your employer has filed the Form I-129CW requesting CW-1 status for you…
Your dependents may file a Form I-539 at the same time or at any time while the I-129CW is pending. The Form I-539 must be accompanied by an additional biometrics fee unless the dependent is under 14 years of age or is 79 or older. However, your dependents’ Form I-539 will not be approved if your application for change of status is denied.
If the Form I-539 is approved, USCIS will send your dependents an approval notice as evidence of the approved Form I-539 with an I-94 as evidence of CW-2 status.
Q3. I have CW-2 status. Can I work?
A3. No. The CW-2 status does not authorize employment.
Q4. If my spouse cannot work as a CW-2 nonimmigrant, how can he or she work?
A4. An employer can petition for your spouse to obtain CW-1 status, if eligible. If your spouse has another basis for work authorization, such as an Employment Authorization Document based on a grant of parole, then your spouse can apply for an extension of work authorization before it expires. A spouse or child of a CW-1 worker is not required to apply for CW-2 status, but if he or she does not, the family member must have another basis of authorization under U.S. immigration law to remain or work in the CNMI.
Q1. As a CW-1 or CW-2 nonimmigrant, what do I need to do in order to travel?
A1. If you wish to travel abroad and reenter the CNMI, you must obtain a CW-1 or CW-2 visa from the U.S. Department of State abroad.
The Department of State has separate application and fee requirements for visa applications. For more information on traveling outside of the CNMI, please visit the Department of State website.
Q2. I have CW status. Can I return from travel outside the CNMI?
A2. You may leave the CNMI, but you must have the corresponding visa to reenter the CNMI. You must apply for a CW visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before seeking readmission to the CNMI.
If you obtained your CW-1 or CW-2 status while in the CNMI, you will be given a Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, as documentation of CW status.
Q3. Is CW status valid in any part of the United States other than the CNMI?
A3. CW status is a “CNMI-only nonimmigrant” status. It does not authorize entry to Guam or to any other part of the United States. Travel or attempted travel from the CNMI to another part of the United States without the appropriate visa or other authorization is a violation of CW status. If you fail to comply with the conditions of CW status, you would be deportable from the CNMI or any other U.S. location.
However, if you hold CW status, you may travel directly to Guam and other U.S. destinations under the following conditions:
- You are traveling to the U.S. destination and back to the CNMI on a U.S. itinerary only (for example, you are traveling to and from Guam only without passing through any foreign airport);
- You need to travel to another part of the United States for a valid business or personal reason, such as a necessary business meeting, professional training, or medical treatment, and your travel plans are consistent with the length of stay and activities that would be authorized for B nonimmigrant visitors, including visitors under a visa waiver program, as appropriate;
- You have received U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval in advance of the travel.
If you are a Philippine national, please see the answer to Question 6 below for information about a limited Guam transit privilege.
Q4. As a CW nonimmigrant, how do I obtain USCIS approval in advance of travel?
A4. Receiving USCIS approval in advance of travel depends on your nationality and/or visa:
When you travel
Prepare a travel approval request packet that includes:
Upon approval, USCIS will annotate the Form I-94 to indicate whether your travel is authorized for:
You should present the annotated Form I-94 and your passport to any U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer encountered when departing the CNMI or elsewhere in the United States. CBP still makes the final decision on whether to permit your travel.
Are a national of the Philippines
See Question 6 in this section for information about your transit privilege through Guam. Philippine nationals eligible for this transit privilege do not require a B visa or advance approval of travel by USCIS.
Have a status that is not described in either box above
(for example, you are not eligible for the VWP program and do not have a valid “B” immigrant visa)
File a Form I-131 Application for Travel Document with the $360 fee with the USCIS Guam Office to obtain an advance parole document.
Guam Office address:
Sirena Plaza, Suite 100
108 Hernan Cortez Avenue Hagatna, Guam 96910
CBP will generally accept the advance parole document to permit you to travel in your CW nonimmigrant status to Guam or the rest of the United States for a purpose and time appropriate for a “B” nonimmigrant visit. CBP ultimately decides whether to permit your travel.
Q5. I have CW status and am otherwise eligible for B visitor status (either with a valid B visa or VWP eligible). Can I attempt to travel to or from another part of the United States through a foreign airport?
A5. This is strongly discouraged. You lose CW status if you depart the United States, and a CW visa is not valid for admission to the United States at any port of entry outside the CNMI. Even if you have a valid B visa or are VWP eligible, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors may consider you inadmissible because B visitors are supposed to have foreign residence, rather than residence in the CNMI or any other part of the United States.
Even if you are admitted to the United States as a B visitor, you can only regain CW status in the CNMI by returning to the CNMI again through a foreign airport (NOT returning through Guam) with a valid CW visa (not the B visa). If you return to the CNMI through Guam, you would remain in B status, which does not permit engaging in the employment authorized in CW-1 status.
If you wish to travel to the rest of the United States after transiting through a foreign place, you should apply to the USCIS Guam Office by filing a Form I-131 requesting an advance parole document. This document would authorize your parole into the United States when arriving from a foreign place. However, if you use this method, you must obtain a CW visa abroad before returning to the CNMI. If you are paroled into the United States and return to the CNMI through Guam, you would remain a parolee rather than resuming the CW status which provides authorization to work in the CNMI.
Please note the difference between a visa and parole: You can use the process described in Question 4 of this section to obtain approval to travel to the United States from the CNMI through Guam to a foreign destination. However, you CANNOT use the process to travel from a foreign place through Guam to the CNMI, as that travel requires a valid CW visa, which cannot be used in Guam for admission into the United States.
For special provisions related to nationals of the Philippines traveling through the Guam airport, see Question 6 below.
Q6. I have CW status. Can I transit through the Guam airport?
A6. If you are a national of the Philippines, you may travel between the CNMI and the Philippines through the Guam airport if you:
- Are in valid CW status;
- Are traveling on a direct itinerary involving a flight stopover or connection in Guam of no more than eight hours; and
- Remain at the Guam airport during the stopover or connection.
If you are a national of the Philippines, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may be able to waive the 8 hour limit and extend up to 24 hours on a case-by-case basis. Please check with CBP Saipan before traveling.
Other individuals in CW status or with CW visas cannot travel to or from foreign destinations with a stopover or connection through Guam, except as described in A3 of this section.
Q7. As a national of the Philippines with CW status, what must I do if my transit through the Guam airport is longer than eight hours?
A7. In this case, follow the instructions under “Have a status that is not described in either box above” in question 4 of this section.
Q8. I do not currently have CW status. Can I travel while my CW petition is pending?
A8. Yes. If you have been granted advance parole, you may travel while your Form I-129CW requesting a grant of CW status in the CNMI is pending. Advance parole is advance permission granted by USCIS to leave the CNMI for a foreign place and return to the CNMI to be paroled back in.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector at the port of entry issues the actual parole to a foreign worker who has an advance parole, when that worker returns to the CNMI from foreign travel.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are requesting a CW visa abroad, you should not request advance parole.
Q9. If my employer filed a new CW petition for me, can I travel for work overseas or within the United States while my petition is pending?
A9. As long as your immigration status has not expired, you can travel and still return; however, you will need a visa to return to the CNMI from abroad. Special requirements apply to CW-1 workers seeking to travel elsewhere in the United States. See the other questions in this Travel section.
Q1. How will I know that my petition was received?
A1. You will receive a notice with a receipt number beginning with the letters WAC. You can use this receipt number to check the status of your case online.