Reports from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas suggest the US may apply federal rules on visas for those visiting the CNMI.
Sources close to talks between US officials and representatives of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce says the US restrictions may be phased in despite hopes for a local exception from the rules.
Business leaders have long said federalisation could harm the local economy, which is largely dependent on foreign workers.
One businessman says strict federal rules on foreign investor visas could prove highly problematic for international businesses operating locally.
But others say the proposed changes will lead to a more stable immigration status for foreign workers.