USCIS to Begin Accepting CW1 Petitions on April 2, 2018

Alexander J. Segal's picture

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder that it will begin accepting petitions under the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW1) program subject to the fiscal year 2019 CW1 cap on April 2, 2018 [PDF version].

The CW1 category allows employers in the Northern Mariana Islands, only, to employ workers who are not eligible for any other nonimmigrant worker category. The fiscal year 2019 CW1 cap is set to 4,999 [see article].

The USCIS encourages employers to file CW1 petitions “up to six months in advance of the proposed start date of employment and as early as possible within that timeframe.” However, petitions filed more than six months in advance of the employment start date will be rejected.

CW1 extension petitions may request an employment start date of October 1, 2018, even in cases where the CW1 worker's current CW1 status will not expire by that date.

The USCIS states that it expects to receive more CW1 petitions than the number of CW1 visas available under the fiscal year 2019 CW1 cap. In that case, the USCIS will conduct a CW1 lottery to randomly select petitions and beneficiaries so as to not exceed the CW1 cap. The USCIS states that another reason it will use the lottery in this situation will be to account for “the possibility of mail delays from the CNMI.” In deciding whether a CW1 lottery is necessary, the USCIS will count the number of beneficiaries in the CW1 petitions received after 10 business days to determine whether the CW1 lottery will be needed. In the event that the CW1 cap is met after 10 business days, “a lottery may still need to be conducted only with the petitions received on the last day before the cap was met.”

The USCIS will announce both when the CW1 cap is reached and whether it conducted a CW1 lottery.

Employers must use the most recent version of the Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, in order to petition for a CW1 worker. The petition must be accompanied by the $200 mandatory CNMI education funding fee and the $460 filing fee. Any petition submitted with insufficient payment will be rejected. Please see our related article to learn about the increased mandatory CNMI education funding fee [see article].

USCIS to Begin Accepting CW1 Petitions on April 2, 2018