WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officials, all applications for CNMI-Only Transitional Worker permits that expired on Dec. 31 have been taken out of the regular processing line at the USCIS California Service Center and are being processed separately.

“The 800 applications submitted at least 90 days in advance — as recommended — have all been processed, I am told; and I expect the remaining 2,000 applications to be done by mid-January,” said Congressman Gregorio C. “Kilili” Sablan in a release today.

The congressman made a snap inspection of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s California Service Center on Jan. 7, Pacific Time. Delays in processing there, as well as a large number of applications submitted with less than the recommended 90 days lead time, have resulted in Northern Mariana Islands businesses cutting hours and in lost income for employees of those businesses — both foreign and U.S. workers.

“The CW applications represent only 2% of the total workload of the California Service Center,” Sablan said. “But what is of small importance to their overall operation is of huge importance to the people I represent in the Northern Marianas.

“I wanted to make that point clear by making a personal inspection of the center.”

Kathy Baran, director of the California Service Center, and a team of department heads took Sablan through the center’s operational process from mail intake and data entry to the office where adjudications occur.

Sablan explained to Baran and to the adjudication staff that he wanted to impress on them how important CW workers still are to the NMI economy and how disruptive the delays in processing have been.

Sablan said that if 90 days is not sufficient lead time for the submission of renewal applications, then better guidelines need to be issued to NMI businesses.

“We cannot afford to have this kind of a back-up occur again in the future,” Sablan told the USCIS staff.

  • For further developments on this story, see the Jan. 25 issue of the Journal.

Citizenship and Immigration Service

Congressman Gregorio C. “Kilili” Sablan at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service California Service Center on Dec. 7, Pacific Time.