United States CW-1 Visa: CNMI-Only Transitional Worker

Application Fee:


Starts From $200

Processing Time:



Table of Contents

The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) visa classification will let the employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to petition for authorisation to employ aliens who are otherwise not eligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker visa categories.

Who Is It For

The CW-1 visa is a very specific visa program that allows employers in Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for temporary permission to employ foreign, non-immigrant workers who would otherwise be ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant categories. 

How to Qualify?

CW-1 Visa Requirements For Employers & Alien Workers:

To qualify, employers must:

  • Obtain an approved temporary labor certification (TLC) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Be engaged in a genuine business
  • Offer employment terms which are consistent with the nature of their business in the CNMI;
  • Fulfil all the federal and CNMI requirements relating to
  • Pay rational conveyance costs if the individual is unwillingly dismissed from employment for any reason before the termination of the period of approved admission; and
  • Fulfil the semiannual reporting requirement by timely filing Form I-129CWR, Semiannual Report for CW-1 Employers.

To qualify for CW-1 US Visa program, an alien worker:

  • Is not eligible for any other employment-based nonimmigrant status under U.S. immigration law;
  • Will be staying in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to work in a designated occupation
  • Is the recipient of a petition filed by an employer who is doing business in the CNMI;
  • Is not staying in the United States, other than the CNMI;
  • Is legally staying in the CNMI; and
  • Is approved any necessary waiver of a ground of inadmissibility.


The following is the application process for employers:

  • If you are petitioning for one or more workers who are legally staying in the CNMI with a federal nonimmigrant status, e.g., F-1 or H-1B, then you need to submit a form I-129CW.
  • If you are petitioning for one or more workers who are legally staying in the CNMI with a CNMI permit or have parole authority granted by USCIS or CBP, then you are required to submit a Form I-129CW with the $proper application fee.
  • If you are applying for one or more workers who are asking for consular processing overseas, then you must submit a Form I-120CW with the appropriate fee.
  • If you are asking for an extension of CW status for a nonimmigrant worker, then you must submit a Form I-129CW with proper fee as well as the compulsory “CNMI education funding fee.

The following is the application process for a foreign worker who has been living and working lawfully in the CNMI prior to applying for CW status:

  • Your employer will submit the petition form, I-129CW with the application fee, education fee, and supporting proofs verifying that the information provided about you, your employer and the job position is exact and meets visa admissibility criteria.
  • If your employer files the Form I-129CW, the USCIS will call or email your employer guiding that you must go to the USCIS Application Support Center in TSL Plaza in Saipan to have your biometric data.
  • If your Form I-129CW is accepted, USCIS will send an approval to your employer who should give you a copy of the document.

Documents Needed

To apply for a CW-1 Visa, you must submit the following:

  • Read the whole guideline for Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker;
  • Fill-up and sign Form I-129CW;
  • Clear the filing fee, if applicable; and
  • pay the mandatory $200 education fee
  • pay the mandatory $50 fraud prevention and detection fee per petition; and
  • Provide all documents required by USCIS

After You File

  • Once USCIS receives your employer’s form, you will receive:
  • Receipt notice approving USCIS received the petition; 
  • Biometric services notice,
  • Notice of our decision to the beneficiary.

Government Fees

Pay for the following fees:

Form I-129CW

Form I-129CWR,

Find fee information on our Fee Schedule page.

Additional Information

Application Process for CW-1 Dependents (CW-2)

If you are approved CW-1 status, and your dependents are legally staying in the CNMI, then they may file:

  • An Application to Change or Extend Status, Form I-539,
  • The filing fee
  • The biometric services fee,
  • And documentation of your admission to the CNMI in the CW-1 classification


Source: U.S. Department of State