Secretary Zinke Praises U.S. Congress and President Trump for Signing Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018

Last edited 10/27/2022
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Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008

WASHINGTON – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke praised President Donald Trump who today signed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, which aims to increase the percentage of United States workers in the total workforce of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands while maintaining the minimum number of nonimmigrant workers to meet the changing demands of the CNMI economy.

“Appropriate access to a labor work force is necessary to ensure robust and healthy economic growth in the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Secretary Zinke. “This law allows for the appropriate extensions and adjustments to enforce the law effectively and appropriately without stifling needed economic growth in the territory.  The Department of the Interior remains committed to working with our fellow Americans and leadership in the CNMI,” the Secretary concluded.

The new law (formerly enrolled bill H.R. 5956) does the following:

  • Extends the termination date of the transition period for the full application of federal immigration laws by 10 years.
  • Allows for the annual adjustment of the supplemental fee of $200 per nonimmigrant worker on each prospective employer-issued permit to employ such workers.
  • Clarifies the eligible uses and distribution requirements of supplemental fee funds, including a new $50 fraud prevention and detection fee.
  • Raises the annual number of authorized nonimmigrant worker visas to 13,000 during fiscal year 2018, with gradual drawdown to 1,000 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2030.
  • Seeks to increase the percentage of United States workers by creating incentives for the hiring, protection, or retention of United States workers.
  • Establishes new application procedures for the issuance of nonimmigrant worker visas.
  • Authorizes certain long-term workers to receive work permits for three years, subject to three-year renewal periods during the duration of the transition period.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary's mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources towards stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.


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