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U.S. immigration official clarifies program

By Gemma Q. Casas SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 25, 2011) – In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says Russian and Chinese nationals with CNMI long-term business permits can qualify for the CNMI Only-E2 investor visa because treaty countries are not listed as part of the requirement for that program in consideration of the islands’ unique situation.

USCIS made the statement responding to the CNMI Department of Commerce’s concern that investors from China and Russia may not qualify in the CNMI-E2 investor visa program.

Marie Thérèse Sebrechts, regional media manager of the USCIS, said the treaty countries are part of the requirement for the E-2 nonimmigrant already existing under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, or INA, but "is not listed as part of the requirement for the CNMI E-2 investor visa."

Sebrechts is inviting investors to attend a public education outreach program about the CNMI E-2 investor visa program and Grant of Status immigration option scheduled tonight and tomorrow night at American Memorial Park’s indoor auditorium.

The two-hour sessions will begin at 5 p.m. and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis as the first 110 people can only be accommodated.

The USCIS began accepting applications for the CNMI-Only E-2 investor visa on Jan. 18.

If the visa and a status are granted, it will be valid for two years and can be renewed until Dec. 2014.

The transitional status will enable the investors to stay in the CNMI until Dec. 2014.

To qualify for the E-2 CNMI investor status, the primary applicant should have been admitted to the CNMI with a long-term investor visa under CNMI immigration law before Nov. 28, 2009; have continuously maintained residence in the CNMI under long-term investor status; currently maintain the investment(s) that formed the basis for the CNMI long-term investor status; and otherwise be admissible to the United States under the INA.

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