U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a final rule in the Federal Register that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The "E-2 CNMI Investor Visa" allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014. Petitions for the E-2 CNMI Investor classification will be accepted beginning Jan. 18, 2011. Petitions received before Jan. 18, 2011, will be rejected.
Authorized by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, the E-2 CNMI Investor Visa will be issued for two years, is renewable, and is valid only in the CNMI. The investor’s spouse and children may also apply for status as dependents of the investor.
Long-term investors are individuals with certain CNMI-issued investor permits that required a fixed minimum investment amount and whose permits can be renewed over a period of multiple years.
Investors eligible for the E-2 CNMI Investor status include:
- Long-term business investors;
- Foreign investors; and
- Retiree foreign investors.
To qualify for E-2 CNMI Investor status, the investor must:
- 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 with 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 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
Investors must have an initial petition filed before Jan. 18, 2013, and must use the existing Petitioner for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with Supplement E. After the initial petition is granted, extensions are available until Dec. 31, 2014. The current processing fee is $325, plus an $85 biometrics fee for certain beneficiaries who require an initial grant of status in the CNMI. Fee waivers for inability to pay are available.