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DHS/USCBP RIN: 1651-AA77 Publication ID: Fall 2013 
Title: Implementation of the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program(Section 610 Review) 
Abstract: This rule amends Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to implement section 702 of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA). This law extends the immigration laws of the United States to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and provides for a joint visa waiver program for travel to Guam and the CNMI. This rule implements section 702 of the CNRA by amending the regulations to replace the current Guam Visa Waiver Program with a new Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program. The amended regulations set forth the requirements for nonimmigrant visitors who seek admission for business or pleasure and solely for entry into and stay on Guam or the CNMI without a visa. This rule also establishes six ports of entry in the CNMI for purposes of administering and enforcing the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program. Section 702 of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA), subject to a transition period, extends the immigration laws of the United States to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and provides for a visa waiver program for travel to Guam and/or the CNMI. On January 16, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through CBP, issued an interim final rule in the Federal Register replacing the then-existing Guam Visa Waiver Program with the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program and setting forth the requirements for nonimmigrant visitors seeking admission into Guam and/or the CNMI under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program. As of November 28, 2009, the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program is operational. This program allows nonimmigrant visitors from eligible countries to seek admission for business or pleasure for entry into Guam and/or the CNMI without a visa for a period of authorized stay not to exceed forty-five days. This rulemaking would finalize the January 2009 interim final rule. 
Agency: Department of Homeland Security(DHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
RFA Section 610 Review: Section 610 Review 
CFR Citation: 8 CFR 100.4; 8 CFR 212.1; 8 CFR 233.5; 8 CFR 235.5; 19 CFR 4.7b; 19 CFR 122.49a 
Legal Authority: PL 110-229, sec 702 
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory  PL 110-229  11/04/2008 

Statement of Need: Previously, aliens who were citizens of eligible countries could apply for admission to Guam at a Guam port of entry as nonimmigrant visitors for a period of fifteen (15) days or less, for business or pleasure, without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission. Section 702(b) of the CNRA, supersedes the Guam visa waiver program by providing for a visa waiver program for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program). Section 702(b) required DHS to promulgate regulations within 180 days of enactment of the CNRA to allow nonimmigrant visitors from eligible countries to apply for admission into Guam and the CNMI, for business or pleasure, without a visa, for a period of authorized stay of no longer than forty-five (45) days. Under the interim final rule, a visitor seeking admission under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program must be a national of an eligible country and must meet the requirements enumerated in the current Guam visa waiver program as well as additional requirements that bring the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program into soft alignment with the U.S. Visa Waiver Program provided for in 8 CFR 217. The country eligibility requirements take into account the intent of the CNRA and ensure that the regulations meet current border security needs. The country eligibility requirements are designed to: (1) ensure effective border control procedures, (2) properly address national security and homeland security concerns in extending U.S. immigration law to the CNMI, and (3) maximize the CNMI's potential for future economic and business growth. This interim rule also provided that visitors from the People's Republic of China and Russia have provided a significant economic benefit to the CNMI. However, nationals from those countries cannot, at this time, seek admission under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program due to security concerns. Pursuant to section 702(a) of the CNRA, which extends the immigration laws of the United States to the CNMI, this rule also establishes six ports of entry in the CNMI to enable the Secretary of Homeland Security (the Secretary) to administer and enforce the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

Summary of the Legal Basis: The Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program is based on congressional authority provided under 702(b) of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA).

Alternatives: None

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: CBP is currently evaluating the costs and benefits associated with finalizing the interim final rule. The most significant change for admission to the CNMI as a result of the rule was for visitors from those countries who are not included in either the existing U.S. Visa Waiver Program or the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program established by the rule. These visitors must apply for U.S. visas, which require in-person interviews at U.S. embassies or consulates and higher fees than the CNMI assessed for its visitor entry permits. These are losses associated with the reduced visits from foreign travelers who no longer visited the CNMI upon implementation of this rule. The anticipated benefits of the rule were enhanced security that would result from the federalization of the immigration functions in the CNMI.

Risks: No risks.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
Interim Final Rule  01/16/2009  74 FR 2824 
Interim Final Rule Effective  01/16/2009   
Interim Final Rule Comment Period End  03/17/2009   
Technical Amendment; Change of Implementation Date  05/28/2009  74 FR 25387 
Final Action  06/00/2014   
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.
RIN Information URL: www.regulations.gov   Public Comment URL: www.regulations.gov  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Related RINs: Related to 1651-AA81 
Agency Contact:
Paul Minton
CBP Officer (Program Manager)
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.,
Washington, DC 20229
Phone:202 344-2723
Email: paul.a.minton@cbp.dhs.gov

 
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