USCIS Sets CW1 Cap For Next Three Fiscal Years (Expires Dec. 31, 2019)

On November 21, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the cap for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Transitional Workers Program (CW1 program) over its final three fiscal years [PDF version]. Under statute, the USCIS is required to wind down the CW1 program “by reducing the number of works … to zero by Dec. 31, 2019.”

The following, courtesy of the USCIS, is the CW1 cap for FY 2017, FY 2019, and FY 2020:

CW1 Cap

After December 31, 2019, the CW1 program will end and no more CW1 visas will be allocated.

On May 25, 2017, the USCIS announced that it had already reached the CW1 cap for FY 2018 [see article].

Going forward, the USCIS explained that it “encourages employers to file for [CW1] workers as early as possible within 6 months of the requested employment start date.” CW1 petitions filed earlier than that will be rejected. In a recent article on an increase in the FY 2017 CW1 cap, we discussed other slight changes to the CW1 program that will remain in effect going forward [see article].

The CW1 program was created to allow employers to employ certain foreign workers in the CNMI who are not eligible for any other nonimmigrant work visa in the territory. The program is being phased out in order “to encourage the territory's transition into the U.S. immigration system, as well as to bolster recruitment of U.S. workers in the CNMI.”

Employers of CW1 workers and CW1 workers themselves should prepare for the wind-down and eventual elimination of the CW1 program. Those with specific questions about CW1 petitions, CW1 status, or available options in lieu of the CW1 program should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The USCIS has further information about the CW1 program, including the current CW1 cap, on its website. The USCIS noted that individuals may call its National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 for more information about the CW1 program.