Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Nena Proposes Permanent Resident Status for Non-Citizens

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): September 21, 1997 - FSM President Jacob Nena, on October 2, 1997, submitted a bill to Congress to amend Title 50 on Immigration, and 51 on Labor, to create a new category of entry permits.

The proposed amendment would create a new category of permanent resident status for spouses and children of FSM citizens, U.S. citizens, and non-citizens who have established residency in the FSM for a ten year period prior to applying for permanent resident status. A permanent resident entry permit would be renewed every three years. Currently, entry permits must be renewed annually.

Their permanent resident status permit would confer automatic work authorization and the employment privileges of the Protection of Resident Workers or Labor Act, the letter stated. Permanent resident status would also spare a holder of such permit from the "myriad of restrictions on alien employment including obtaining work authorization from the Division of Labor," FSM Department of Resources and Development.

For employment purposes, a non-citizen with a permanent resident status, as proposed, would be treated on an equal basis with FSM citizens and would be afforded the same hiring preferences only available to FSM citizens over non-resident alien workers, Nena stated.

The proposed amendment also removes the "return home" requirement for non-citizens who are present in the FSM and want to change their entry permit status. As an example, an alien in the FSM who marries any FSM citizen and subsequently applies for an entry permit change would no longer be required to return to the original home country to re-enter the FSM in his or her new status or obtain from the FSM President a waiver.

The existing law requirements create a personal and financial hardship on individuals and their families under this type of permit, Nena stated.

"I believe, the enactment of this proposed legislation," Nena stated, "will have many positive economic and social implications. It will serve to reduce the bureaucratic hoops through which these individuals must jump. It in turn, will reduce government costs by eliminating unnecessary administrative and enforcement expenditures."

Most importantly, Nena added, it will by law acknowledge the special status and dignity that the non-citizen family members of FSM citizens, as well as long-standing and hard-working non-citizen residents deserve by conferring upon them automatic work authorization and the privileges and benefits of the protection of Resident Alien Workers Acts.

Nena concluded by urging Congress to support his proposed amendments.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356