USCIS Reaches CW-1 Cap for Fiscal Year 2017

USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the numerical limit (the “cap”) of 12,998 workers who may be issued CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) visas or otherwise provided with CW-1 status for fiscal year 2017. Oct. 14, 2016 was the final receipt date for CW-1 worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2017.

What Happens After the Cap is Reached

USCIS will reject CW-1 petitions that were received on or after Oct. 15, 2016 and that request an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2017. This includes CW-1 petitions for extensions of stay that are subject to the CW-1 cap. The filing fees will be returned with any rejected CW-1 petition.

If an extension petition is rejected then the beneficiaries listed on that petition are not permitted to work beyond the validity period of the previously approved petition. Therefore, affected beneficiaries, including any CW-2 derivative family members of a CW-1 nonimmigrant, must depart the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) within 10 days after the CW-1 validity period has expired, unless they have some other authorization to remain under U.S. immigration law.

Petitions that are Subject to the CW-1 Cap

The following types of Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, are generally subject to the CW-1 cap:

  • New employment petitions; and
  • Extension of stay petitions.

All CW-1 workers are subject to the cap unless the worker has already been counted towards the cap in the same fiscal year. The U.S. government’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30.

The CW-1 cap does not apply to CW-2 dependents.

When to File CW-1 Petitions

USCIS encourages CW-1 employers to file a petition for a CW-1 nonimmigrant worker up to 6 months in advance of the requested employment start date, and to file as early as possible within that timeframe. Please note, however, that USCIS will reject a petition if it is filed more than 6 months in advance.

Alternate Classifications

USCIS encourages employers and employees to review the Working in the U.S. page for a list of all classifications available for temporary and permanent workers. A general description of each classification, along with eligibility criteria and other filing requirements, can be found by clicking on the links provided on the page.

For more information about the CW-1 work program, visit the CW-1: CNMI-Only Transitional Worker page or call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.

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