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Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program

Overview

On January 16, 2009 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program interim final rule (IFR). The rule:

 

  • Establishes six ports of entry in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to enable the Secretary of Homeland Security to administer and enforce the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, and to allow for the application of U.S. immigration laws in the CNMI.
  • Establishes the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program and sets forth the requirements for nonimmigrant visitors seeking admission into Guam or the CNMI under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.
  • Changes the list of participating countries and geographic areas.
  • Adds a provision for “Satisfactory Departure.”
  • Modifies Forms I-736 and I-760 for use under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

Under the IFR, CBP is adding new admission requirements for the Guam-CNMI VWP. To be admissible under the Guam-CNMI VWP, prior to embarking on a carrier for travel to Guam or the CNMI, each nonimmigrant alien must:

  • Be a national of a country or geographic area listed in 8 CFR § 212.1;
  • Be classifiable as a visitor for business or pleasure;
  • Be solely entering and staying on Guam or the CNMI for a period not to exceed 45 days;
  • Be in possession of a round trip ticket that is nonrefundable and nontransferable and bears a confirmed departure date not exceeding 45 days from the date of admission to Guam or the CNMI.
    • “Round trip ticket” includes any return trip transportation ticket issued by a participating carrier, electronic ticket record, airline employee passes indicating return passage, individual vouchers for return passage, group vouchers for return passage for charter flights, or military travel orders which include military dependents for return to duty stations outside the United States on U.S. military flights;
  • Be in possession of a completed and signed Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Information form (CBP Form I-736);
  • Be in possession of a completed I-94, Arrival-Departure Record (CBP Form I-94);
  • Be in possession of a valid unexpired ICAO compliant, machine readable passport issued by a country that meets the eligibility requirements of this section;
  • Have not previously violated the terms of any prior admissions. Prior admissions include those under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, the prior Guam Visa Waiver Program, the Visa Waiver Program as described in section 217(a) of the INA and admissions pursuant to any immigrant or nonimmigrant visa;
  • Waive any right to review or appeal an immigration officer's determination of admissibility at the port of entry into Guam or the CNMI;
  • Waive any right to contest any action for deportation or removal, other than on the basis of: an application for withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the INA; withholding or deferral of removal under the regulations implementing Article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; or, an application for asylum if permitted under section 208 of the Act; and
  • If a resident of Taiwan, possess a Taiwan National Identity Card and a valid Taiwan passport with a valid re-entry permit.

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Satisfactory Departure

Under new 8 CFR 212.1(q)(7), if an alien admitted under the Guam-CNMI VWP is prevented from departing within the period of his or her authorized stay due to an emergency, an immigration officer may grant “satisfactory departure” to permit the alien to delay departing Guam or the CNMI for a period not to exceed 15 days.

If the alien departs within the extended time period, the alien:

 

  • Will be regarded as having departed within the required time period, and,
  • Will not be considered as having overstayed his period of authorized stay.

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The Consolidated Natural Resources Act

Signed on May 8, 2008, Public Law 110-229, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA), extends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

The law replaces the existing Guam Visa Waiver Program with a new Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program at INA § 212(l).

  • It extends the authorized period of stay under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program from 15 to 45 days.
  • As of  November 28, 2009, U.S. immigration law applies to the CNMI and the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program is in effect.
  • The new implementation date of November 28, 2009 is a result of Secretary Napolitano's decision to delay the June 1, 2009 transition date to U.S. immigration law up to 180 days, after consultation with the secretaries of Labor, Interior and State, the attorney general, and the governor of the CNMI under section 702(b) of the CNRA.
  • As of November 28, 2009, Customs and Border Protection operate ports of entry in the CNMI for immigration inspection of arriving aliens and establish departure control for certain flights leaving the CNMI.
  • As of November 28, 2009, Guam Visa Waiver Program will not be in effect. The Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program applies.

Read more about the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transition to U.S. Immigration Law

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Significant Economic Benefit

The CNRA requires the Department of Homeland Security to include a listing of any countries from which the CNMI had received a “significant economic benefit” from the number of visitors for pleasure within the year preceding enactment. This list was required to be included in the regulation enacting the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

The Department determined that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia meet this economic threshold.

On October 21, 2009, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that she will exercise her discretionary authority to parole into the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) visitors for business or pleasure who are nationals of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. Parole will be authorized on a case-by-case basis only for entry into the CNMI and will not extend to other areas of the United States.

To be eligible for the parole provision, prior to embarking on a carrier for travel to the CNMI, each nonimmigrant alien must:

  • Be a national of the People’s Republic of China or the Russian Federation;
  • Be solely entering and staying in the CNMI for a period not to exceed 45 days;
  • Be in possession of a roundtrip ticket that is nonrefundable and nontransferable and bears a confirmed departure date not exceeding 45 days from the date of entry to the CNMI;
  • Be in possession of a completed and signed Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Information form (CBP Form I-736);
  • Be in possession of a completed I-94, Arrival-Departure Record (CBP Form I-94); and
  • Be in possession of a valid unexpired ICAO-compliant, machine readable passport.

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Visa Waiver Program and the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program and the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program are different programs.

More on the differences and how they both will operate in Guam and the CNMI

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Differences between Guam Visa Waiver Program and Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program

Guam Visa Waiver Program remained in effect until November 28, 2009.  There are a number of differences between Guam Visa Waiver Program and Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

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