MARIANAS SEEK TO KEEP FOREIGN INVESTOR PROGRAM

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U.S. government poised to take over immigration security

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 20, 2008) – The Senate in the Northern Marianas has adopted a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to keep its foreign investor visa programme.

The resolution came as the federal government moves closer to taking control of the local immigration system.

There are fears that many of the investors now in the CNMI would not qualify for the U.S. investor visa once local immigration is federalised next year.

There is also concern within the local private sector that those investors who do qualify would leave the Commonwealth and take their businesses elsewhere in the United States.

Foreign investment in the CNMI provided direct tax revenues to the local government of over US$16.5 million in 2007, which is about 10 percent of total government revenue.

Foreign investors own companies that provide jobs to over 1,700 U.S. citizens..

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