Tuesday, 18 September 2012

USA CW-1 Visa

CW-1: CNMI-Only Transitional Worker

The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) visa classification allows employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for temporary permission to employ foreign (nonimmigrant) workers who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories. The CW classification provides a method for transition from the former CNMI foreign worker permit system to the U.S. immigration system.

The CW nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:

  • CW-1: A CNMI-Only transitional worker 
  • CW-2: Dependent of a CNMI-Only transitional worker

General Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for workers with CW visa status, employers must:

  • Be engaged in legitimate business**
  • Consider all available U.S. workers for the position
  • Offer terms and conditions of employment consistent with the nature of the employer’s business in the CNMI
  • File the necessary forms to hire transitional workers
  • Comply with all federal and CNMI requirements relating to employment: examples include nondiscrimination, occupational safety, and minimum wage requirements
  • Pay reasonable transportation costs of the individual to the individual’s last place of foreign residence if the individual is involuntarily dismissed from employment for any reason before the end of the period of authorized admission
A legitimate business is defined as a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit, or is a governmental, charitable, or other validly recognized nonprofit entity. The business must meet the legal requirements for doing business in the CNMI. A business will not be considered legitimate if it engages directly or indirectly in prostitution, human trafficking, or any other activity that is illegal under Federal or CNMI law.


A foreign worker may be classified a CW-1 nonimmigrant during the transition period if he or she:

Is ineligible for any other employment-based nonimmigrant status under U.S. immigration law
Will enter or stay in the CNMI to work in an occupational category designated as needing alien workers to supplement the resident workforce
Is the beneficiary of a petition filed by a legitimate employer who is doing business in the CNMI
Is not present in the United States, other than the CNMI
Is lawfully present in the CNMI if present in the CNMI
Is otherwise admissible to the United States or is granted any necessary waiver of a ground of inadmissibility


Foreign worker who has been living and working lawfully in the CNMI

  • To obtain CW status your employer must submit all of the following documentation:
  • A Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker with the application fee
  • A mandatory $150 education fee
  • Supporting evidence certifying that the information provided about you, your employer and the job position is accurate and meets eligibility criteria
If you are lawfully present in the CNMI with a CNMI permit or parole authorized by USCIS or CBP, the employer must also include the biometrics fee with the petition if you are requesting a grant of CW-1 status in the CNMI rather than overseas.

  • In most situations where a direct grant of status in the CNMI is requested, after the employer files the Form I-129CW, USCIS will contact your employer advising that you must go to the USCIS Application Support Center in TSL Plaza in Saipan to have your fingerprints and photograph taken. This will enable DHS to conduct the required security checks.
  • If your Form I-129CW is approved, USCIS will mail an approval notice to your employer who should give you a copy of the document. The approval notice will indicate whether you have been granted CW-1 status in the CNMI (as evidenced by an attached Arrival-Departure Record Form I-94) or whether you may proceed to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to seek visa processing of your CW-1 visa.
Er Ashima Patel

Machine-Readable Visa Fee,
Credit Card CW Code,
CW 5 Form,
CW 1,
I 129Cw

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