Working in the United States
CW-1: CNMI-Only Transitional Worker
The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) visa classification allows employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for temporary permission to employ foreign (nonimmigrant) workers who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories. The CW classification provides a method for transition from the former CNMI foreign worker permit system to the U.S. immigration system. For more information about CW status, please see our CW Questions and Answers.
The CW nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
General Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for workers with CW visa status, employers must:
**A legitimate business is defined as a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit, or is a governmental, charitable, or other validly recognized nonprofit entity. The business must meet the legal requirements for doing business in the CNMI. A business will not be considered legitimate if it engages directly or indirectly in prostitution, human trafficking, or any other activity that is illegal under Federal or CNMI law.
A foreign worker may be classified a CW-1 nonimmigrant during the transition period if he or she:
Application Process: CW-1 and CW-2 Status
Foreign worker who has been living and working lawfully in the CNMI
If you are lawfully present in the CNMI with a CNMI permit or parole authorized by USCIS or CBP, the employer must also include the biometrics fee with the petition if you are requesting a grant of CW-1 status in the CNMI rather than overseas.
Foreign national worker living abroad and seeking employment in the CNMI
Beneficiaries with Dependents
Dependents in the CNMI seeking a grant of CW-2 status may file a Form I-539 concurrently with the employer’s I-129CW petition for the CW-1 principal, once the CW-1 petition is submitted by the employer. While dependents may wait until the CW-1 petition is granted, they MUST be lawfully present in the CNMI at the time of filing their I-539s in order to be eligible for a grant of CW-2 status in the CNMI. This means your dependents may need to file the I-539 before the I-129CW is granted in order to retain eligibility for CW-2 status. CW-2 status does not authorize employment.
Length of Stay
CW status is valid for one year. You must re-register for CW status or obtain another INA nonimmigrant or immigrant classification to lawfully stay in the CNMI.
Termination of Employment
A foreign worker with CW nonimmigrant status will lose that status if he or she violates any of the terms or conditions that are associated with that CW status. However, when the violation is solely caused by termination from employment, the worker will not be considered to have violated his or her status if:
If new employment is found, the new employer must file a petition for the foreign worker before the end of this 30-day period in order for him or her to remain lawfully present in the CNMI. The foreign worker may only begin work with the new employer after that employer files the petition.
If a new petition is not filed within 30 days, the foreign worker must leave the CNMI and that worker will be considered to be out of status effective on the date of termination of CW-1 employment. Any petition filed for that worker after the 30-day period will require an approved petition and a CW visa issued at a consulate outside the CNMI before the foreign worker can return and start new employment in the CNMI.
Once you obtain the approval of your CW petition, you may leave the CNMI but must have the appropriate visa to re-enter the CNMI. When your CW petition is approved, you will be given an Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, as evidence that you have been granted CW status. The Form I-94 alone will not be valid to re-enter the CNMI. You will need to obtain a CW visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad before returning to the CNMI in order to apply for readmission.
CW Status vs. CW Visa
NOTE: As a CW status holder you cannot travel in any other part of the United States, except for nationals of the Philippines who may travel between the Philippines and the CNMI through the Guam airport.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/02/2014
CNMI Only Transitional Worker Translations
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