Foreign worker visa resolution close for Marianas

1:14 pm on 19 August 2016

A resolution to the ongoing contract worker crisis in the Northern Marianas appears close.

Saipan, CNMI

Saipan, CNMI Photo: Supplied

Changes were made to the visa conditions for foreign workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands last month forcing hundreds of them to leave the territory.

In some cases, workers were left stranded in the CNMI without residency or means to return home, creating a humanitarian crisis on Tinian.

Washington's move to cut the numbers of long-term foreigner workers in the Marianas sparked concern among local leaders.

The Governor of the Northern Marianas, Ralph Torres, said guest workers played a crucial role in the development of the islands.

A member of the Northern Marianas legislature, Angel Demapan, said the US Department of Homeland Security had indicated it is close to acting on requests from the CNMI government to resolve the matter.

The CNMI had asked the federal government to allow workers to stay while they submit a new visa application and to lift the cap on the number allowed in under the visa.

The Northern Marianas' delegate to the US Congress, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, has said he would introduce a bill to try and bring improved status to longtime guest workers in the territory.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs