Kilili, governor to meet and discuss NMI workforce issues

Oct 25, 2016

Marianas Variety — GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres and U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will meet soon to discuss the workforce issues facing the CNMI, now that the CW cap has already been reached with 11 months still left in the current fiscal year.

In separate email interviews, Torres and Kilili vowed to continue to work together to find solutions to the labor-force problems.

Torres said he instructed the CNMI Department of Labor to grant new investors waivers from the 30-percent U.S. hire ratio which, according to Kilili, is one of the reasons why the 12,998 cap for fiscal year 2017 has already been reached.

But now, “because of the dramatic events following the…cap being reached, I directed the CNMI Department of Labor to place a moratorium on future exemptions.”

He added, “This year has been a wake-up call for us all that we must do more to ensure that our growth does not come at the expense of the things that make our islands great. I mean the success of our small and established businesses and everyone here who calls these islands home.”

The governor said his administration will continue to work with Kilili and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “to put forward a joint effort toward transitioning our workforce and growing our economy in a way that benefits all of our people here in the CNMI.”

Torres added, “The goal of creating a better standard of living for our people is not just a local government issue. It is a commonwealth issue that requires collaboration with our business leaders and our colleagues on the federal level in Washington, D.C.,” Torres said.

Kilili said:

“I will continue to work with Governor Torres on legislative solutions to address our labor and immigration challenges, and assist his efforts to transition our workforce. I hope to meet with him soon now that he is back on island. We have a lot to discuss, and a lot of work ahead.”

Kilili, at the same time, said there is no guarantee of approval for any visa category.

“Petitioners have to do their due diligence in properly submitting applications and demonstrating eligibility for the visa categories they are applying for. Each case is different, and there are many reasons why an application may be approved or denied,” the congressman said.

“And while I cannot speak to any specific cases, I will say that, in general, constituents who have questions or issues with USCIS may fill out a consent form with the congressional office and we can inquire about their individual cases on their behalf.”