In most cases, an individual in the United States without a nonimmigrant status needs to leave the country and return with a valid visa (if needed) in order to obtain a nonimmigrant status. However, USCIS established criteria allowing certain individuals in the CNMI to initially obtain a nonimmigrant status without having to depart and return. If you are lawfully present in the CNMI under Federal immigration law (including parole), you may be eligible for an initial grant of status.
General Eligibility Criteria
You may be eligible for an initial grant of status if you:
Are lawfully present in the CNMI
Were present in the CNMI before November 28, 2009
Do not currently hold an nonimmigrant classification
Request a Grant of Status
For An Employee
You may request a grant of status for an employee at the time you petition for their services as a nonimmigrant worker. To request a grant of status you must provide the following documentation and information to demonstrate eligibility along with your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 package:
A notation in bold capital letters at the top of the Form I-129 and/or the petition cover letter indicating this is a “Grant of Status” case
Notification on the Form I-129
Check box “a” indicating “New employment” in Part 2 of Question 2 “Basis for Classification”
Check box “b” indicating “Change the person(s)’s status” in Part 2 of Question 4 “Requested Action”
Documentation establishing that the employee is lawfully present in the CNMI such as a copy of CNMI issued permit or parole authorization
An $85 biometrics processing fee
Please note: If you are checking anything other than “Change the person(s) status” in Part 2 of Question 4 “Requested Action,” you are not required to submit the $85 biometrics processing fee and USCIS will not process the case as a request for a grant of status in the CNMI. USCIS will contact you to schedule a biometrics collection appointment date.
For information about filing a Form I-129, see the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker link to the right.
If you are the dependent of a nonimmigrant worker, you may request a grant of status at the time you file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, Form I-539. To request a grant of status you may submit the following documentation and information to demonstrate eligibility for the grant of initial grant of status along with your Form I-539 package:
A notation in bold capital letters at the top of the Form I-539 and or the application cover letter indicating this is a “Grant of Status” case
Notification on the Form I-539
Check box “b” indicating “A Change of status” in Question 1 of Part 2 “Application Type”
Documentation establishing that your spouse or parent has been admitted to the United States or CNMI with a nonimmigrant status (For example: an I-94 arrival record or a petition approval notice or petition receipt notice)
Note that if you are filing your I-539 concurrently with the Form I-129 being filed on behalf of your spouse or parent, you do not need to submit a copy of the approval or receipt notice.
Documentation establishing that all the applicants are lawfully present in the CNMI such as a copy of CNMI issued permit or parole authorization
An $85 (per applicant) biometrics processing service fee must be submitted with the application
USCIS will contact you to schedule a biometrics collection appointment date. (Note that if you are not requesting an initial grant of status in the CNMI, you are not required to submit the $85 biometrics processing fee.)
USCIS will not approve your grant of status request until the principal employee's I-129 petition is approved.
If you are filing a petition or application on your own behalf requesting a nonimmigrant classification that allows self petitioning procedures, such as an E-2 using a Form I-129 or an F-1 using a Form I-539, you must submit the same documentation listed above to establish eligibility for a grant of initial status in the CNMI.
If a request for an initial grant of status is approved and you wish to travel outside of the CNMI and re-enter, you will need to apply for a visa from the State Department. In most cases, you can apply at the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. Consulate abroad. Each embassy and consulate abroad has their own appointment system; please visit the U.S. embassy nearest you to find out more information about making an appointment.