Since 2008, the US has sought to harmonize the immigration laws of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) with the mainland US. Part of this initiative was the establishment of a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) visa classification allows employers in the CNMI to apply for temporary permission to employ nonimmigrant workers who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories. The CW-1 classification provides a method for transition from the former CNMI foreign worker permit system to the U.S. immigration system. The law also provides a CW-2 for dependents of CW-1 visa entrants.
On June 3, 2014, the US Department of Labor announced that it was extending this program through December 31, 2019. The CW-1 program had been set to expire at the end of this year.
Philippine nationals make up a large number of the CW-1 visas that are granted. The US Embassy – Manila has a webpage dedicated to explaining the CW-1 process.
The largest island in the CNMI is Saipan, where 90% of the CNMI population resides. For this reason many people use the “Saipan” to mean “CNMI”.