The CW-1 nonimmigrant visa program permits employers who meet program requirements to hire nonimmigrant workers temporarily in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI or "Commonwealth") to perform services or labor based on the employer's need. Job opportunities for the CW-1 program can have validity periods of up to 1 year and may be renewed for two additional periods of up to one year, with the exception of statutorily defined "long-term workers" who may receive a certification with a validity period of up to 3 years, which may be renewed for additional periods of up to 3 years.
In order for the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) to issue a CW-1 certification, an employer must establish that:
- There are not sufficient U.S. workers in the CNMI who are able, willing, qualified, and available at the time and place needed to perform the services or labor involved in the petition; and
- The employment of a nonimmigrant worker who is the subject of a petition will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
The CW-1 program contains significant worker protections for both United States (U.S.) and foreign workers to ensure no U.S. worker is placed at a competitive disadvantage compared to a foreign worker. These protections include:
- The job opportunity must be full-time (35 or more hours per week);
- U.S. workers in corresponding employment must receive the same wages and benefits as the CW-1 workers;
- The payment of wages by employers to employees must be unconditionally "free and clear" and must be paid no less frequently than every two (2) weeks;
- CW-1 workers and U.S. workers in corresponding employment are guaranteed to be paid for at least three-fourths of the total number of hours documented in the temporary labor certification.
In addition, employers must pay visa and related fees for CW-1 workers and the inbound transportation and subsistence costs of workers who complete 50 percent of the job order period and the outbound transportation and subsistence expenses of employees who complete the entire job order period. Employers are prohibited from laying off any similarly employed U.S. worker in the occupation beginning 270 calendar days before the date of need and continuing through the end of the period of employment certified by the U.S. DOL. Finally, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising rights under the CW-1 program and workers are protected from discriminatory hiring practices.
To participate in the CW-1 program, an employer must:
- Have a place of business (physical location) in the Commonwealth and a means by which it may be contacted for employment;
- Have an employer relationship (such as the ability to hire, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the work of employees) with respect to a CW-1 worker or a worker in corresponding employment; and
- Possess, for purposes of filing a Form ETA-9142C , Application for Temporary Employment Certification , a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
Prior to filing a petition with Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an employer must obtain an approved temporary labor certification from the U.S. DOL. The applicant must:
- Obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) - An employer must first electronically request and receive a PWD by filing the Application for Prevailing Wage Determination (Form ETA-9141C) with the OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). Based on a review of the information provided by the employer on the Form ETA-9141C, the NPWC will issue a PWD (the PWD will indicate the wage source and PWD validity period) and return the Form ETA-9141C with its endorsement to the employer.
- File a CW-1 application - An employer must file the CW-1 Application for Temporary Employment Certification (Form ETA-9142C) , with the Chicago National Processing Center (Chicago NPC). OFLC will return incomplete applications without review.
- CW-1 Application for Temporary Employment Certification (Form ETA-9142C)
- A valid PWD or PWD case number issued by the NPWC on the Form ETA-9141C
- Form ETA-9142C appropriate appendices (Appendix A, Appendix B, and Appendix C)
- Supporting documentation, as appropriate.
An employer seeking a new CW-1 worker must submit a CW-1 application package no more than 120 calendar days before the employer's date of need. If the employer is seeking a Temporary Labor Certification to extend the employment of a CW-1 worker, a completed CW-1 Application for Temporary Employment Certification must be filed no more than 180 calendar days before the date on which the CW-1 status expires.
PWD - The PWD application may be submitted electronically through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) System at https://flag.dol.gov/ .
CW-1 Application Package - The CW-1 Application package, which includes the Form ETA-9142C, copy of Appendices, the PWD issued by the NPWC or PWD case number, and any applicable supporting documentation must be filed electronically through the FLAG System at https://flag.dol.gov/ .
The Chicago NPC Certifying Officer (CO) will review the employer's application for compliance with all applicable program requirements and issue either a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) or Notice of Acceptance (NOA). Where deficiencies in the application are discovered, a NOD will be issued which identifies the deficiencies and provides the employer with up to ten (10) business days to submit a modified application correcting the deficiencies; if the employer does not respond timely or does not respond completely, the CO will deny the application.
Where all program requirements are met, the employer will receive a NOA from the CO directing the recruitment of U.S. workers for the job opportunity and requesting a written report of the employer's recruitment efforts. To encourage the hiring of U.S. workers for employment in the CNMI, the employer will be required to advertise the job opportunity on the CNMI Department of Labor's job listing system; contact its former U.S. employees in good standing and solicit their return to the job; post a copy of the CW-1 Application for Temporary Employment Certification at the place(s) of employment in which the work will be performed by the CW-1 workers; and conduct any other recruitment activities that may be ordered (e.g., contacting community-based organizations or trade unions) required by the CO. The recruitment period must: begin within 14 calendar days of the date the NOA was issued; last 21 consecutive calendar days; all employer-conducted recruitment must be completed; and the employer must wait two (2) calendar days, before the written recruitment report can be prepared, signed, and submitted to the Chicago NPC for review.
Upon review of the recruitment report, the CO will make a determination either to certify or to deny the Application for Temporary Employment Certification. The CO will certify the application only where the employer has met all regulatory requirements. If the employer has met all requirements, the CO will electronically send a Final Determination notice and copy of the certified CW-1 Application for Temporary Employment Certification to the employer and a copy, if applicable, to the employer's agent or attorney.
Round 1: CW-1 Implementation