Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Interior Requests Island Views on Habitual Residence Regulations

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): January 23, 1997 - Mr. Allen Stayman, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, today requested the views of island Governors and Presidents of the freely associated states (FAS) on regulations relating to habitual residence of FAS citizens in United States territories.

"I am hopeful that any regulations will acknowledge the contributions that FAS citizens make to the economies of Guam and Northern Marianas, and that they are tailored to continuing employment," Stayman said.

On several occasions, Marshall Islands Ambassador Banny de Brum and FSM Ambassador Jesse Marehalau have requested and met with Director Stayman to press the concerns of their citizens for jobs in Guam and the CNMI.

"I want to thank the ambassadors for their commitment, interest, and concern for the habitual residence issue, and their cooperation and support for the survey of FAS migrants to Guam, the CNMI and Hawaii," Stayman said.

The compacts of free association between the United States and the FAS (Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshalls) allow FAS citizens to enter the United States and its territories for work, residence, and education. This compact right of residence, however, may be limited when it comes to the United States insular areas, including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Last fall, in immigration reform legislation, the U.S. Congress required that the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issue regulations "governing rights of habitual residence" by March 31, 1997. The regulations will apply in all U.S. territories, except the CNMI which controls its own immigration and may issue its own regulations.

Attached to the request for views is a U.S. federal executive branch opinion on issues and questions leading to habitual residence. The opinion was included so that a chief executive may focus on the regulations in a substantive way.

"Before regulations on habitual residence are drafted, we want to know the thoughts and views of all island governments," Stayman said.

The INS asked Stayman to take the lead on the regulation's substantive issues. The request for island government input is intended to give broad scope to the process.

Editor's Note: A freely associated state (FAS) citizen who migrates to a United States territory for work, residence, or schooling usually becomes a "habitual resident" one year after entry, with two exceptions: persons entering for full-time studies, and dependents of FAS residents representatives. These excepted migrants may stay for longer periods of time without being classified as habitual residents, as long as they respectively maintain their full-time study status or as long as the representative holds office.


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