CNMI Makes Filing an Immigration/Working Conditions Complaint Difficult

Workers must file up to seven documents, including two hand-drawn maps

By David North on July 6, 2023

It has been known for some time that the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), out in the Western Pacific, is dominated by foreign-worker-loving employers, and that the bulk of the territory’s private sector workers are nonimmigrant aliens with no prospect of citizenship.

Further, the overstuffed local bureaucracy is so careless or so inept that something as simple as giving everyone a street address is not the norm.

Finally, there is the Commonwealth’s Labor Department, which handles foreign workers and thus (reluctantly) complaints against them and their employers filed by citizens.

Given these three factors it is predictable that the complaint process is full of obstacles but the extent of them is remarkable, as a CIS informant has told us.

If someone wants to make an immigration/labor complaint, one must start by paying a $20 fee; maybe this happens elsewhere under the U.S. flag but I have never heard of it.

Then one must jump over four to seven more hoops; the complainant must provide, and here we are quoting a CNMI document:

  1. Copy of your government-issued photo ID
  2. Map and written directions to your place of residence
  3. Copy of employer’s business license
  4. Copy of Annual Corporation Report, if any
  5. Map and written directions to employer’s place of business
  6. Copy of job vacancy announcement, if relevant
  7. Copy of employment contract, if any. [Capitalization as in original.]

One must pay an unstated (nominal) fee to obtain both the annual corporation report from one CNMI agency, and the business license from another, so maybe we should say that the complainant has to jump over seven to 10 obstacles, including three fees, before filing a complaint about an immigration or labor market issue.

This writer once worked for the part of the U.S. Department of the Interior that deals (always very gently) with the island territories; he spent several weeks in the CNMI, whose capital is Saipan, lying a few dozen miles north of Guam. The document of interest can be seen here.