CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW1) visas are subject to an annual cap. The CW1 visa is a limited employment visa exclusive to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, as of May 25, 2017, it had reached the annual CW1 visa cap for fiscal year 2018 of workers who may be issued CW1 visas or otherwise provided with CW1 status. The USCIS noted that, although the fiscal year 2018 CW1 cap has not been set, it is required by law to be less than the fiscal year 2017 CW1 worker cap of 12,998.
The USCIS stated that it will issue subsequent guidance when the fiscal year 2018 cap is set and when it is able to announce the final receipt date. The USCIS cautioned that because the final receipt date will depend on the fiscal year 2018 CW1 cap. It is possible that the USCIS will not accept some CW1 petitions that were received on or before May 25, 2017.
The USCIS explained that it will reject any CW1 petitions received on or after May 26, 2017, that request an employment start date before October 1, 2018. This extends to CW1 petitions for extensions of stay that are subject to the CW1 cap. The USCIS will return filing fees for any petition rejected for this reason.
The beneficiaries of a rejected CW1 extension petition will not be permitted to work beyond the validity period of the previously approved CW1 petition. Accordingly, unless the beneficiary of a rejected CW1 petition has or obtains a separate authorization to remain in the Northern Mariana Islands under U.S. immigration law, he or she will be required to depart within 10 days of the expiration of the CW1 validity period.
Any Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker petition is subject to the CW1 cap if it is a new employment petition or an extension of stay petition. Accordingly, all CW1 workers are subject to the CW1 cap unless the worker in question has already been counted toward the CW1 cap in the same fiscal year. Please note that the CW1 cap does not apply to CW2 derivative family members.
In general, CW1 petitions may be filed up to six months in advance of the requested employment start date.
We will update the site with more information on the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker cap as it becomes available.