Official Website of the United States Department of Homeland Security

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Federalization of Immigration Law

On May 8, 2008, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) extended most provisions of U.S. immigration law to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the CNMI) for the first time in history. The transition period for implementing of U.S. immigration law in the CNMI began on November 28, 2009, and is scheduled to end on December 31, 2014.

Working in the CNMI

The United States welcomes thousands of foreign workers in many employment categories every year. These include artists, researchers, cultural exchange participants, information technology specialists, religious workers, investors, scientists, athletes, nurses, agricultural workers and others. Because of the CNRA, these employment categories are now available to foreign workers in the CNMI.

All foreign workers must have permission to work legally in the United States and in the CNMI. Each employment category has different requirements for admission, conditions and authorized periods of stay. It is important that you follow the terms of your admission and visa. For more information about temporary and permanent worker categories, visit our Working in the US Web page.

CNMI-Only Temporary Workers

If you do not qualify for any of the established temporary worker categories, you may be eligible for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker category (CW visa). This new visa classification enables employers in the CNMI to apply for temporary permission to employ nonimmigrant workers who are otherwise ineligible to work. For more information about this category go to the Nonimmigrant Worker in the CNMI Web page.

Please note: Premium Processing Service is currently unavailable for all Form I-129 filings that request a change or a grant of status for workers within the CNMI. Premium Processing Service is also unavailable for I-129CW filings.

Temporary Worker Categories:  H-1B and H-2B

Foreign nationals in H-1B and H-2B classifications who are admitted to perform labor and services in the CNMI and Guam are exempt from the H-1B cap and H-2B cap from November 28, 2009 to December 31, 2014. To qualify for this exemption, your prospective employer’s petition must include a Labor Condition Application (LCA) listing employment or services in the CNMI and/or Guam only. 

The spouse and qualifying children of an H worker may apply for H-4 (dependant of an H worker) classification.  There is no cap for H-4 classification.  Family members seeking H-4 classification may apply directly at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a visa or (if lawfully present in the CNMI) may apply to USCIS for a grant of status.  Once you obtain that status, you must file future requests to extend that status with USCIS using Form I-539, Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

Please see the H-1B and H-2B Web pages for more information about these temporary worker categories. 

Employment Authorization Verification

Beginning Nov. 28, 2011, employers must use the standard Form I-9 for all new hires and reverifications in the CNMI.  

E-Verify Now Available in the CNMI

Employers in the CNMI may now enroll in E-Verify. E-Verify can verify the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees, including employees with CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) or E-2 CNMI Investor (E-2C) nonimmigrant statuses. Enrolling in E-Verify is easy. The E-Verify website has a variety of resources to help you prepare. Visit the Getting Started page of the E-Verify website to explore enrollment resources. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) page on I-9 Central provides additional Form I-9 guidance for employers hiring individuals in the CNMI.

USCIS also announces the nationwide launch of Self Check, the free online service that allows individuals in the United States to check their own employment eligibility

Parole in the CNMI

The term "parole," when used by immigration officials, means "permission to be in the United States."  There is no fee for this request.

The following groups in CNMI may be eligible for a grant of parole:

Individuals who have been granted CW or another nonimmigrant status are ineligible to apply for parole.

Go to the Requesting Parole for the First Time in the CNMI or Extending Parole in the CNMI Web pages for more guidance about how to apply for parole. 

Grant of Status

In most cases, individuals in the United States without an INA based nonimmigrant status needs to leave the country in order to obtain nonimmigrant classification. However, exceptions can be made for individuals in the CNMI with CNMI permits or parole authorization.

For more information about applying for a Grant of Status, please see the Grant of Status link to the right.

Travel for Foreign Nationals Present in the CNMI

If you need to leave the CNMI for any reason, you will need an appropriate visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to return to the CNMI, unless you have been granted advance parole by USCIS.

Go to the U.S. Department of State website for information about:

  • How to obtain a visa
  • Visa wait times for each U.S. Consular post abroad

Contact Us

To get more information about immigration in the CNMI, you may:

  • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. This toll-free number has automated information and live assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During regular business hours, customers who need more information or assistance can speak to a customer service representative. In the CNMI, live assistance is available Tuesday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time.
  • Email us at
  • Find the status of your case by using the My Case Status tool.
  • Make an appointment to visit the USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) at TSL Plaza in Saipan. Walk-ins for emergencies only, will be seen after people with appointments. 

More information on U.S. immigration-related and travel issues can be found at on the right under "Non-USCIS Links."


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Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/15/2013