Marianas Variety

Last updateMon, 20 Aug 2018 8am

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    Monday, August 20, 2018-5:28:04P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Alex Sablan: Businesses must take transition period seriously

BUSINESSES in the commonwealth must take the transition period seriously and start transitioning their nonresident employees from CW to H or other visas, especially if they have the capacity to do it, Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp. president Alex Sablan said.

He noted that the major companies in the CNMI have already started the transition, but only because the economy is finally getting better.

“It’s not true that businesses are not interested in doing the transition. In fact, we’ve been doing it since last year when we knew that CW numbers would come down. We have employees at Tan Holdings that are now in the H-visa process, and other companies are doing the same like Imperial Pacific.”

Sablan said just a few years ago, “our economy was bad and many businesses didn’t have the means to apply for H or other visas. It’s expensive and when you’re in a recession, companies were trying to stay alive.”

At that time, many companies were reducing the number of their workers. There were also proposals submitted to the U.S. Congress to grant improved immigration status to qualified long-term guest workers in the commonwealth.

Sablan said now is the right time to pursue the transition because the economy is improving.

But he also reiterated that many nonresident employees of small or medium-sized businesses cannot qualify for H or other visas and that’s why the CW program is still important for the CNMI.

Unless the U.S. Congress extends it, the CW program will end in Dec. 2019.

Sablan said their group will continue their dialogue with federal authorities to ensure that the CNMI will have the workforce it needs.

He said they will also reach out to the local community and businesses regarding CW issues and the H-visa process, and meet with students to discuss the importance of taking up courses that will expand the local labor pool.