USCIS Reaches CW-1 Cap for FY 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of May 25, 2017, it had received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the numerical limit (cap) of workers who may be issued CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) visas or otherwise provided with CW-1 status for fiscal year (FY) 2018. Although the FY 2018 cap has not been set, it is required by statute to be less than the 12,998 workers set for FY 2017.

USCIS said it will issue subsequent guidance when the FY 2018 cap is set and when the agency is able to announce the final receipt date. Because the final receipt date will depend on the FY 2018 cap, it is also possible that USCIS will not accept some petitions it received on or before May 25, 2017.

The agency noted that it will reject CW-1 petitions received on or after May 26, 2017 that request an employment start date before October 1, 2018. 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 USCIS rejects an extension petition, the beneficiaries listed on that petition will not be permitted to work beyond the validity period of the previously approved petition, USCIS noted. 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 expires, unless they have some other authorization to remain under U.S. immigration law.

New employment petitions and extension-of-stay petitions are generally subject to the CW-1 cap.

All CW-1 workers are subject to the cap unless the worker has already been counted toward the cap in the same fiscal year. The CW-1 cap does not apply to CW-2 derivative family members.

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 time frame. USCIS noted, however, that it will reject a petition if it is filed more than 6 months in advance.

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