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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

CNMI parole extended pending establishment of guidelines for permanent status application

It may take a while for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration to establish guidelines and procedures for obtaining CNMI-only resident status under the newly signed enacted Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act, according to CNMI Rep. Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration has thus automatically extended the humanitarian parole and employment authorization to allow those under these program to stay in the CNMI legally during the transition.

Those living under humanitarian parole program would have been asked to leave the CNMI upon parole expiration on June 29.

“DHS is automatically extending parole for those individuals without interruption, under authority granted to it in Public Law 116-24, through Oct. 28, 2019. This automatic extension of 120 days will provide an opportunity for individuals to submit a re-parole request,” the USCIS said in a press release.

The USCIS urged parolees who want to maintain their parole status beyond Oct. 28, 2019 to submit a re-parole request as soon as possible.

A total 1,039 foreigners are eligible to obtain CNMI-only permanent resident status under P.L 116-24, which was signed by President Trump on June 25.

“That legislation is now law, but it will take time for former parolees to apply and for USCIS to adjudicate the applications on a case-by-case basis, as President Trump directed,” states a press release from Sablan’s office.

“Extending their parole allows these individuals to remain lawfully present in the Marianas and continue working, while USCIS sets up a process for them to apply for permanent residence under the terms of the new law,” said Sablan, author of the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act.

The agency’s decision to end the categorical parole program, begun under the Obama administration, was consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order of Jan. 25, 2017 on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. The Order directed that parole should only be used on a case-by-case basis. When the Obama program expired in December 2018, the Trump administration declined to renew it.

Instead, the agency worked with Sablan on legislation that would provide for those who had been covered by the administrative parole to obtain a new, statutory status.

According to USCIS, individuals who submit a re-parole request will receive a letter from the agency granting parole, unless there is a specific reason to deny the request as determined on a case-by-case basis. USCIS will grant parole with an expiration date no later than June 29, 2020.

For parolees with an employment authorization extension, expiring at the same time as their parole (June 29, 2019), USCIS is automatically extending employment authorization through Oct. 28, 2019. The following documentation will serve as evidence of identity and work authorization for employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) purposes through Oct. 28, 2019:

  • A copy of this web alert; and

  • A USCIS EAD (Form I-766) bearing category code “C-11” with an expiration date of June 29, 2019.

Parolees who wish to work beyond Oct. 28, 2019, or who do not have an EAD, must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. A parolee should not file Form I-765 until after they have requested and received a grant of parole beyond Oct. 28, 2019, but it should be filed as soon as possible after receiving the letter granting parole.

Individuals eligible for this new CNMI Resident status include those who qualify under section 2 of the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (PDF). USCIS will provide more information and announce the procedures for applying for this status in the coming months. Eligible individuals should begin applying for CNMI Resident status as soon as the procedures are in place because their parole will not be extended indefinitely.

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