Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau

Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau

CITIZENS OF THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA (FSM), THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS (RMI), AND PALAU ARE ELIGIBLE TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES INDEFINITELY

Immigration Status of Citizens of the FSM, the RMI and Palau

These three countries are sometimes referred to collectively as the “Freely Associated States.” These citizens are nonimmigrants when admitted under the terms of those nations’ respective Compacts of Free Association with the United States. They are not citizens or nationals of the U.S.

The instructions for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, state that the term “noncitizen national of the United States” includes “certain former citizens of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.” This refers to a very small group of people living in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1986 who chose voluntarily to give up their new U.S. citizenship. This does not apply to citizens of the FSM, RMI, or Palau, although many of them are also citizens of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI).

Indefinite work authorization

Under the terms of their respective Compacts of Free Association with the United States, citizens of the FSM, the RMI, and Palau are eligible to work in the United States as nonimmigrants for an unlimited length of time.

Completing Section 1

When completing Section 1 of Form I-9, citizens of the FSM, RMI, and Palau should attest to being an “alien authorized to work.” They should also enter “N/A” in the Expiration Date of Employment field.

An employer may not request or require that an employee present specific documentation, such as a passport or accompanying Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, to verify information they used to complete Section 1 of their Form I-9. Requesting such documentation based on an individual’s citizenship status or national origin may violate the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. See 8 U.S.C. § 1324b.

Typical Notations on Form I-94 Issued to Citizens of the FSM and the RMI

Because citizens of the FSM and the RMI may reside in the U.S. indefinitely, they generally will not have an expiration date in the “Admitted Until” field on their Form I-94 or Form I-94A.

In some cases, the notation “D/S” or “Duration of Status” could appear under the Admitted Until field. This notation means the individual is authorized to remain in the U.S. as long as they maintain a valid status.

The exact notation on Form I-94 or Form I-94A under Class of Admission may vary and is subject to change. As of early 2011, the notation on Form I-94 or Form I-94A under Class of Admission typically will state:

  • “CFA/FSM” (Compact of Free Association/Federated States of Micronesia) for FSM citizens; or
  • “CFA/MIS” (Compact of Free Association/ Republic of the Marshall Islands) for RMI citizens.

Some current citizens of the FSM and the RMI may have been admitted to the U.S. before the effective date of the compacts with those nations under previous provisions of law applicable to the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The compact effective dates were Oct. 21, 1986, for the RMI, and Nov. 3, 1986, for the FSM. Previous entrants could have a notation of “PI” under Class of Admission on their Form I-94. Any Form I-94 dated before the effective dates of the compact are not acceptable evidence of employment authorization for Form I-9 purposes. These workers will need to present a valid Employment Authorization Document or other acceptable evidence from List A, or Lists B and C.

Typical Notations on Form I-94 Issued to Citizens of Palau

A Class of Admission listed as “CFA/PAL” indicates a citizen of Palau admitted under the compact between the U.S. and Palau. Any Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating this Class of Admission is not acceptable evidence of work authorization for Form I-9 purposes, even with a valid passport. These workers will need to present a valid Employment Authorization Document or other acceptable evidence from List A, or Lists B and C.

Completing Section 2

Acceptable Documents for Citizens of the FSM and the RMI

Citizens of the FSM and the RMI may present the following documents for Form I-9 purposes:

  • An unexpired passport from the FSM or RMI, accompanied by Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association (List A);
  • Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (List A); or
  • Any combination of documents from Lists B and C, including a driver’s license and an unrestricted Social Security card.

Acceptable Documents for Citizens of Palau

Palauan citizens may present the following documents for Form I-9 purposes:

  • Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (List A); or
  • Any combination of documents from Lists B and C, including a driver’s license and an unrestricted Social Security card.

Automatic Extensions of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

Citizens of the FSM, RMI, and Palau receive EADs with a category code of A08. Applicants filing EAD renewal applications under category A08 may receive automatic extensions of their expiring or expired EAD for up to 180 days. The extension begins on the date the EAD expires and continues for up to 180 days unless we deny the renewal application. For more information, see Section 4.2 Automatic Extensions of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in Certain Circumstances in the Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9.

Reverifying Citizens of the FSM and RMI

Citizens of the FSM and RMI admitted under the compacts are eligible to work in the United States indefinitely. Employers cannot reverify an employee who presents an unexpired foreign passport from the FSM or RMI that is accompanied by a Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating admission under the compacts if that form does not have an expiration date in the Admitted Until field. Nevertheless, employers may still need to reverify an employee who presents another List A or a List C document that contains an expiration date, such as Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, for Form I-9. An employer must not reverify a List B document.

Reverifying Citizens of Palau

Citizens of Palau admitted under the compact are eligible to work in the United States indefinitely. Nevertheless, employers may still need to reverify an employee who presents a List A or List C document that contains an expiration date, such as a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document. An employer must not reverify a List B document.

How Employers of FSM, RMI, and Palauan Citizens Can Avoid E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmations

Most E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmations received by citizens of the FSM, RMI, and Palau are a result of name and date of birth mismatches. When completing Form I-9, employees should use their full legal name and enter their date of birth in the month/day/year format (mm/dd/yyyy).

Citizens of the FSM, the RMI and Palau in Other Immigration Statuses

Most citizens of the FSM, RMI, and Palau who are lawfully present in the U.S. are compact nonimmigrants, but some have lawful permanent resident status or some other status under U.S. immigration law. These individuals should be verified using generally applicable Form I-9 procedures, regardless of their specific nationality.

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