Form I-129CW: A Guide to the Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker

Form I-129CW is a legal document utilized by employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to petition for temporary nonimmigrant workers under the CW-1 classification. This form caters specifically to employers seeking to hire a noncitizen worker who is not eligible for other employment-based nonimmigrant classifications. The primary purpose is to enable businesses to address labor shortages by employing foreign workers within the constraints of federal immigration regulations.
This particular petition is a critical component of the CNMI’s transitional immigration system, which recognizes the unique economic conditions and workforce demands of the region. Employers are required to fill out I-129CW with accurate details about the positions offered and the terms of employment.

As part of the process, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mandates that along with the basic petition, an Additional Worker Attachment must be included if more than one beneficiary is named in the petition.

Compliance with the provisions set by USCIS is imperative for the approval of Form I-129CW. Upon approval, employers are able to legally employ nonimmigrant workers in the CNMI. This allows the region to maintain its economic stability by admitting skilled workers in various industries that are essential to the CNMI’s economic development.

Overview of Form I-129CW

Form I-129CW, entitled Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, is a document utilized by employers within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). These employers submit the form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to petition for alien workers ineligible for other employment-based nonimmigrant classifications to work temporarily as a CW-1, CNMI-Only Transitional Worker.

Eligibility: An employer may file Form I-129CW to classify an alien worker as a CW-1 worker if they are temporarily employing the worker in the CNMI.

Purpose: The form serves to verify the employer’s need for a foreign worker under the terms that adhere to the approved worker’s category. It’s also employed when seeking an extension of stay or change of status for a CW-1 worker.

  • Components of Form I-129CW:
    • Basic Petition
    • Additional Worker Attachment (required for multiple beneficiaries)

Filing Requirements: Employers must complete the necessary sections of Form I-129CW and provide evidence that demonstrates the legitimacy of the employment need in CNMI.

Verification: Post approval, employers use Form I-129CWR, known as the Semiannual Report for CW-1 Employers, to confirm ongoing employment and compliance with the terms of the approved petition.

By meeting the specific criteria set by the USCIS, the Form I-129CW allows for the smooth process of hiring nonimmigrant workers in specialized roles where locals are not available to meet the labor demands in the CNMI. The process ensures that both the rights of the workers and the interests of the employers are safeguarded.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility for Form I-129CW revolves around strict criteria that both employers and foreign workers must meet to qualify for the CW-1 visa program in the CNMI.

Qualifying Employers

Employers applying for Form I-129CW must be operating within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). They should ensure:

  • The job offered cannot be filled by a U.S. worker.
  • They are offering terms and conditions consistent with local labor laws.
  • The position falls under the nonimmigrant transitional worker classification.

Eligible Workers

Foreign workers qualify for CW-1 status via Form I-129CW if they:

  • Are ineligible for other employment-based nonimmigrant statuses.
  • Intend to work in the CNMI for a temporary period.
  • Meet the qualifications for the job offered by the CNMI employer.

Form I-129CW Filing Process

The Form I-129CW filing process involves precise steps that employers must follow to petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker. The following sections provide a structured outline of the required documentation, associated costs, submission procedures, and expected processing timelines.

Required Documentation

  • Form I-129CW: Employers must fully complete and sign the Form I-129CW.
  • Evidence of the Beneficiary’s Eligibility: This includes copies of current immigration documents, work qualifications, and other relevant information.
  • Employer Documentation: Proof of the employer’s capacity to pay the offered wage and business legitimacy documents may be necessary.

Filing Fees and Payment

  • Basic Filing Fee: The current filing fee must be confirmed on the USCIS website or latest form instructions.
  • Additional Fees: In some cases, additional fees such as fraud prevention and biometric services charges may apply.

Payment can be made via:

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Credit card (using Form G-1450)

Submission Guidelines

Employers must:

  • Ensure correct form version: Use the most recent Form I-129CW available from the USCIS website.
  • Type or print in black ink: Handwritten forms must be legible.
  • Compile all required documentation: This should be arranged according to the instructions provided in the form.
  • Mail the petition: Send the completed form and all required documentation to the address provided by USCIS.

Processing Times

Processing times for Form I-129CW vary and can be checked on the USCIS website for the most accurate information. Employers can:

  • Check Case Processing Times: Visit the USCIS website and select Form I-129CW to view current processing times.
  • Submit an Inquiry for Cases Beyond Normal Processing Time: If a case is outside standard processing times, an inquiry can be submitted through the USCIS Contact Center.

Employer Obligations

In fulfilling their responsibilities, employers utilizing the I-129CW form must adhere to both worker protections and regulatory compliance. These two facets ensure the welfare of the CW-1 workers and uphold the integrity of the immigration system.

Worker Protections

Employers are mandated to safeguard the rights and well-being of CW-1 workers. This includes provision of fair wages, safe working conditions, and adherence to the terms of the approved petition. Failure to meet these standards could result in penalties or revocation of the employer’s right to hire nonimmigrant workers.

Compliance with Regulations

Employers must also remain compliant with all federal and CNMI regulations. Record-keeping is a pivotal aspect, requiring careful documentation of each worker’s employment and remuneration. Compliance includes timely submission of necessary reports, such as the Semiannual Report for CW-1 Employers, to confirm ongoing adherence to the terms stipulated by the USCIS.

Worker Rights and Protections

When employing a worker under Form I-129CW for the CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker classification, employers are obliged to adhere to the federally mandated rights and protections for these workers.

Key Protections:

  • Wage Requirements: Employers must pay CW-1 workers the prevailing wage or the employer’s actual wage, whichever is higher. This ensures that workers receive fair compensation for their labor.
  • Working Conditions: CW-1 workers must be provided with working conditions on the same level as those provided to U.S. workers. This prevents employers from using CW-1 workers to undermine local labor standards.
  • Anti-Retaliation: Any action taken against workers for asserting their rights under the CW-1 program is prohibited. Workers can report rights violations or cooperate with a rights investigation without fear of retaliation.

Important Aspects to Note:

  • Employers must verify and confirm the ongoing employment and wage payments of CW-1 workers using Form I-129CWR.
  • Employment contracts must transparently outline the terms and conditions of employment, ensuring workers are fully informed of their rights.
  • Employers must comply with all federal, CNMI, and local labor laws to safeguard the interests of CW-1 workers effectively.

By enforcing these provisions, the U.S. government aims to protect the welfare of CNMI-Only Transitional Workers and maintain a fair and equitable working environment. Employers found to be in violation may face legal consequences, including the revocation of the granted petition.

Renewals and Extensions

Employers seeking to retain a CW-1 nonimmigrant worker in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) must adhere to specific renewal and extension procedures outlined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Renewal Criteria

To qualify for a renewal of a CW-1 visa, the employer must file Form I-129CW before the worker’s status expires. The petition should demonstrate that the position remains consistent with the terms and conditions of the original approval. Essential renewal criteria include:

  • A valid temporary labor certification.
  • Evidence of ongoing business need for the CW-1 worker.

Extension Procedures

For an extension, the Form I-129CW must include:

  1. The Basic Petition, detailing information about the employer and the CW-1 worker.
  2. An Additional Worker Attachment, if more than one beneficiary is included in the petition.

Extensions are subject to the same approval standards as initial petitions, requiring proof that the employment conditions have not changed unfavorably.

Common Issues and Resolutions

When filling out Form I-129CW, petitioners often encounter specific issues that can result in delays or denials. Understanding these problems and their resolutions helps ensure smoother processing.

Incomplete Applications

Issue: A common problem is incomplete applications, where petitioners miss out on providing all the required information.


  • Thoroughly Review: Prior to submission, petitioners should cross-check each section against the official checklist.
  • Follow Instructions: USCIS’s official instructions for Form I-129CW contain detailed guidelines to avoid omissions.
  • Provide All Information: Every required field must be filled, and necessary documents attached.

Denial and Appeals

Issue: When a Form I-129CW is denied, it can be due to various reasons such as failure to meet eligibility criteria, lack of evidence, or incorrect application details.


  • Understanding the Denial: Evaluating the denial notice is crucial to pinpointing the reason(s).
  • Gather Additional Evidence: If the denial stems from insufficient evidence, gathering and submitting additional documentation may be needed.
  • File an Appeal or Motion: If applicable, an appeal or motion to reopen or reconsider with the USCIS can be filed, adhering to the outlined procedures and deadlines.

Additional Resources and Assistance

Employers looking for guidance on filing Form I-129CW have several resources at their disposal. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the primary source for updated forms and instructions. Employers should:

  • Visit the USCIS website for the latest version of Form I-129CW and its corresponding instructions.
  • Check the expiration date of the form to ensure it is the current version (OMB No. 1615-0111 Expires 09/30/2024).

For more detailed assistance, the following resources are available:

  • USCIS Contact Center: Employers can speak with a representative for personalized support.
  • This portal provides additional documents and instructions related to Form I-129CW.

Employers can also benefit from the following:

Resource Type How It Helps
Online Tutorials Offers step-by-step guidance on how to fill out the form.
Community Forums Enables employers to discuss and share experiences with one another.
Immigration Lawyers Provides expert legal assistance for complex situations.
Employer Information Bulletins Keeps employers informed on updates about CW-1 visa regulations and processes.

For submitting the semiannual report, USCIS Form I-129CWR is used, and it is important to start the process well in advance to avoid delays.

Ensuring the accuracy of every detail in Form I-129 is crucial for employers. Don’t forget the Additional Worker Attachment for multiple beneficiaries. Navigating the intricacies of nonimmigrant worker petitions can be challenging, so seeking professional legal advice is always a wise move. Remember, precision matters when dealing with Form I-129.