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Trump administration says no to more time for CW applications

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(Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan has received word from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that the agency will not provide additional time for filing applications for CW-1 workers as fiscal year 2020 ends October 1.

The congressman had requested the extension in light of disruptions caused by the coronavirus and the late submission of a prevailing wage survey by the Commonwealth government. But the Trump administration said no. 

“I wish the Governor and his Washington lobbyist could have influenced the Trump administration decision,” Congressman Sablan said.

Last year, Sablan did successfully convince USCIS to provide extra time for employers to submit CW applications. Sablan’s U.S. Workforce Act was just coming into effect, which requires the U.S. Labor Department to certify no U.S. worker is available for a job before an employer may petition for a CW worker. Both employers and U.S. Labor needed extra time to process this new legal requirement. 

The U.S. Workforce Act also protects U.S. workers’ wages by specifying CW workers have to be paid at least the prevailing wage. The Commonwealth government had prevailing wage rates for 84 occupations approved by May of last year. This year the Commonwealth did not complete submission of its prevailing wage survey to U.S. Labor until September 10, seriously delaying the application process. 

Congressman Sablan said the congressional office cannot provide legal advice to employers or workers. On a case by case basis, however, the congressional office can make sure constituents have access to all pertinent information that may help them decide their next steps now that the Trump administration has closed the door on a blanket extension.

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