When then-president George W. Bush signed Public Law 110-229 on May 8, 2008, its intent was to extend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The law would establish six ports of entry in CNMI and enable the Secretary of Homeland Security to enforce the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program and set the requirements for nonimmigrant visitors seeking admission into Guam or the CNMI.
Basically, what Congress is trying to do, is to facilitate the development of tourism in the Mariana Islands, which mandates an accommodation of significant source markets aimed at diversifying the region’s tourism base. PL110-229 changes the list of participating countries and geographic areas, but it does not include visitors from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) nor Russia, which the Secretary of Homeland security determined contributes a significant economic benefit to the CNMI.
The board of directors of the Guam Visitors Bureau resolved at its regular meeting last month to delay the implementation of Public Law 110-229 until October 1, 2010 in order to allow time for the Department of Homeland Security to implement additional security measures such as electronic travel authorization, biometric entry-exit requirements, and other border patrol security infrastructure in the CNMI to address security concerns, as well as cooperate with China in reducing the rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals. Until then, visitors from the PRC and Russia can visit the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the current Guam Visa Waiver Program.