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US grants two-year parole extension for Pinoys, other foreign workers in Northern Marianas

November 23, 2012 9:00am
SAIPAN – The United States government said on Thursday it will consider, on a case-by-case basis, extending the parole of immediate relatives of US citizens in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for two years or up to 2014.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas made the announcement Thursday.  USCIS is the agency within the US Department of Homeland Security responsible for immigration benefits.
A parole allows these foreign individuals to maintain legal status in the CNMI while they are still looking for fulltime jobs, among other things.  They are mostly Filipino and other Asian parents of minor US citizen children.

Were it not for a consideration of a two-year parole extension, these foreigners’ parole would only have until Dec. 31, 2012 to remain in the CNMI.
Parole does not authorize employment.  Foreigners must separately obtain an Employment Authorization Document or a transitional Commonwealth-only worker permit.

Parole extension is not automatic. Requests to extend parole and required documents must be submitted before the expiration of the current parole.
The CNMI, home to some 10,000 Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, is about three hours away from Manila.  
'Best Thanksgiving gift'
Violy Dawana, from Pangasinan, said she was already contemplating on leaving her 16-year-old U.S. citizen son with a friend in the CNMI’s main island of Saipan so that the teen would at least be able to finish high school, when she’s forced to go back to the Philippines after Dec. 31.
Dawana, 54, said on Thursday that USCIS’s announcement is “the best Thanksgiving gift for us.”
“A two-year extension of parole will be a great help.  Within that period, I am hoping to get a fulltime job and by then, my son would have already graduated high school,” Dawana told GMA News.
Jocelyn Anastacio, 39, said a two-year parole will make it easier for those like her to find an employer.  Anastacio has two U.S. citizen children – 7 and 8 years old.
“This is good news for us.  I want my kids to grow up here because this is their home.  I don’t want to be separated from them,” said Anastacio, from Ilocos Sur.
Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen and are residing in the CNMI with parole as of Nov. 25, 2012 will be able to apply to USCIS for extension of that parole.

Earlier parole granted
In November 2011, also on Thanksgiving Day, USCIS allowed a grant of one-year parole to those covered in a bill pending in the U.S. Congress so that they will continue to maintain legal status in the CNMI until the bill is passed and signed into law.
CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan, author of H.R. 1466, said yesterday he will reintroduce a better version of the bill, which seeks a grant of CNMI-only resident status to four groups of people, including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who were on the islands as of May 8, 2008, and continuing to be on the islands.
If signed into law, the bill would provide a path to lawful permanent residence for most individuals covered by the parole policy.

Sablan said it was important that families with some US citizens and some non-US citizens be allowed to remain together in their home in the CNMI.
“USCIS may grant two-year extensions to individuals who have been granted parole under the current ‘immediate relative’ parole policy and who, based on a case-by-case review of their request for such extension, continue to warrant the favorable exercise of discretion,” USCIS’s Mayorkas told Sablan. - VVP, GMA News
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