Visa crisis looms over IPI construction

Imperial Pacific International is facing further disruption at its unfinished Saipan property after new visa regulations further dried up the labor pool available to complete the long-delayed project. The U.S. Department of State recently removed the Philippines from the list of qualifying countries for the U.S. H-2B worker visa program, along with the Dominican Republic and Ethiopia, due to concerns about overstaying. The Northern Mariana islands are a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, with a permanent population of about 55,000. As a result, the islands are heavily dependent on imported labor, especially in the trades, such as masons, plumbers and carpenters.   There were a total of 844 H-2B visa holders working at the IPI construction site but that figure would be slashed by almost half with the departure of the workers from the Philippines, which has been a great source of skilled labour for both the CNMI and Guam...

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