A US academic visiting the Northern Marianas says if given immigrant visas, most guest workers in the CNMI would prefer to stay rather than leave the islands.
Rose Cuison Villazor says for most foreign workers Saipan is closer to home than the US mainland, and the lower cost of living on the islands is an added incentive.
She gave a presentation in Saipan on family-based and employment-based immigration law, covering issues such as immigration petitions based on marriage to US citizens and sponsorships by employers.
The CNMI government opposes granting green cards to guest workers, arguing that they will move to the US mainland once they are given more permanent status.
Ms Villazor has urged guest workers to petition the US Congress for legislation to address issues over their status.
She says there are many individuals whose status is not legally established, such as children of guest workers brought in by parents who have been on island for two or three decades.