24 Jan 2009

CNMI, Guam visa waiver programme not affected by Obama freeze

1:04 pm on 24 January 2009

Regulations relating to the impending federalisation law, including the Guam-CNMI visa waiver programme, will not be affected by President Barack Obama's decision to freeze all pending federal regulations until further review.

Within hours of his inauguration, Obama's office issued a memo halting all pending federal regulations until they could be reviewed and approved by newly appointed or designated department or agency heads.

But because the interim final rule for the visa waiver programme was published in the Federal Register on Friday, before President Obama took office, the regulations will not be impacted.

The CNMI-Guam visa waiver programme was one of many regulations published in the last few weeks of President Bush's presidency.

Under the regulations, citizens of a number of countries will be allowed entry into Guam or the CNMI without a visa, effective from June.

However, citing security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security left China and Russia off the list, a move that has local government officials, business and tourism leaders, and community members worried about the economic impact to the Commonwealth.