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Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands

DHS: Russian and Chinese tourists will still be able to enter CNMI without visas

Kevin Kerrigan  Oct 21, 2009

Guam - The Department of Homeland Security's State and Territories Director Rick Swigart said that he informed CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial this morning that DHS has decided to allow Chinese and Russian tourists to continue to enter the CNMI after the implementation of the new federalization law on November 28.

Homeland Security is calling it a "parole" which will allow tourists from China and Russia to continue to enter the CNMI without visa's. The move is a major boost for the CNMI's ailing economy.

The CNMI has been fighting the implementation of the Visa requirement because it would seriously impact their already ailing tourist industry. Both Governor Fitial and CNMI Delegate Gregorio Sablan have urged Federal officials to delay or suspend the implementation of the new immigration rules.

When asked this morning by PNC News how long the "parole" would be in place, DHS's Swigart said: "It will be in place either until the Secretary (Janet Nepolitanio-DHS Secretary) makes a final ruling or until we come up with something else."

The move appears to be a reversal of what came out of a recent meeting between DHS Secretary Janet Nepolitano and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordalo and CNMI Delegate Gregorio Sablan. At that meeting Nepolitano said there would be no further delays in the implementation of the federalization law. Sablan said he told the Secretary that he strongly disagreed.

The new ruling, is printed below:

The Secretary of Homeland Security Will Exercise Her Authority to Parole Into the CNMI

Washington DC 20528 During the period from November 28, 2009 (the transition program effective date), until the date of publication of the final Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program (VWP) rule (or other date that the Secretary of Homeland Security may determine), the Secretary of Homeland Security will exercise her authority to parole into the CNMI, in the Secretary’s discretion on a case-by-case basis, visitors for business or pleasure who are nationals of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China who present valid passports and who are not inadmissible except for the lack of a valid U.S. visitor visa.

Parole, if granted, will be permitted for a period generally not to exceed 45 days and may be revoked or terminated upon notice. Parole will be authorized only for entry into the CNMI and will not extend to other areas of the United States.

Visitors who are paroled under this authority may not engage in local employment or labor for hire.

Under U.S. immigration laws, the Secretary may grant parole to applicants for admission ‚Äúunder such conditions as [she] may prescribe only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.‚ÄĚ

With CBP assuming immigration functions in the CNMI, new security
features including

· notice of entry via Advance Passenger Information data
transmissions to CBP prior to flight take-off;

· clearance of security watchlist vetting prior to entry; and

· compliance with strict exit controls upon departure from the CNMI will be in place for all travelers entering the CNMI from outside the United States, including Chinese and Russian visitors.

DHS will continue to evaluate the comments received regarding the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program interim final rule and will work toward issuance of a final rule.

DHS: Russian and Chinese tourists will still be able to enter CNMI without visas
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