The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule on September 14, 2009, to recognize a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)- specific nonimmigrant investor visa classification. The “E- 2 CNMI Investor” status is one of several CNMI-specific provisions in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which extended most provisions of federal U.S. immigration law to the CNMI. This status would be available only to investors in the CNMI who have been granted a qualifying status by the CNMI before the “transition period,” which begins on November 28, 2009, and ends on December 31, 2014. With E-2 CNMI Investor nonimmigrant status, eligible CNMI investors would be able to remain in the CNMI for an initial period of two years, and the period would be renewable through the duration of the transition period. CNMI investors would be able to exit and enter the CNMI with valid E-2 CNMI Investor visas.
DHS said it is proposing temporary provisions for the transition period “to provide for an orderly transition from the current CNMI permit system to the immigration laws of the U.S., to lessen potential effects on the CNMI economy, and to give foreign long-term investors time to identify and obtain appropriate U.S. immigrant or nonimmigrant status.”