H.R.6401, Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act

H.R. 6401

Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act

Sponsor
Rep. Gregorio Sablan

Date
December 6, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the House will consider the H.R.6401, Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 6401 was introduced on November 29, 2016 by Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Bill Summary

H.R. 6401 makes certain changes to the foreign worker permitting process for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory. Under current law, CNMI is undergoing a “transition period” in implementing U.S. immigration law in the territory. Foreign workers can currently apply to be treated as “nonimmigrants” for work purposes.

The bill would limit work permits issued to nonimmigrant construction workers in the CNMI to those who had a permit before October 1, 2015. The bill also would limit the total number of nonimmigrant work permits to 15,000 in 2017 (the permits are to be phased out by the end of 2019). Additionally, the bill would increase the fee charged by the Secretary of Homeland Security (from $150 to $200) per nonimmigrant worker to each prospective employer to fund ongoing vocational education curricula and program development by CNMI educational entities.

Background

On May 8, 2008, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA) extended most provisions of U.S. immigration law to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the CNMI) for the first time in history. The transition period for implementing U.S. immigration law in the CNMI began on Nov. 28, 2009, and is now scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2019.[1]

Until 2019, certain foreign workers may be eligible for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker classification (CW visa). This visa classification enables employers in the CNMI to apply for temporary permission to employ nonimmigrant workers who are otherwise ineligible to work.[2]

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[1] See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, U.S. Immigration Law in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
[2] Id.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.