FSM CITIZEN INFORMATION
This information first compiled into a pamphlet in December 2001, has been revised and updated for the use of citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) who travel to the United States of America (USA) to visit, reside, seek education and/or employment. It contains important information that may be useful to make one’s visit or stay in the US enjoyable and profitable. It also refers to a few privileges that FSM citizens enjoy under the Amended Compact of Free Association (effective June 25, 2004).
The Compact of Free Association http://www.fsmlaw.org/compact (CFA), a treaty agreement between the FSM and the US, was first implemented on November 3, 1986 as US Public Law 99-239. The Compact as recently amended took effect on June 25, 2004 and is codified as US Public Law 108-188. The relationship between the US and the FSM as enshrined in the Compact does not expire, although certain financial provisions of the Compact will expire in 20 years
It is important for us, FSM citizens, to remember that we enter the US, its territories and possessions (i.e. Guam), as “guests” and we should behave accordingly. Through our special relationship with the US, as recognized by the Compact, certain privileges or benefits are extended to FSM citizens. Although we may consider ourselves “special guests” in the US, we must respect the local standards, ordinances and wishes of the communities where we may reside. We must keep in mind that FSM laws, customs, attitudes and way of life do not necessarily apply in the US. As guests in the US, we are subject to all US laws. We must also keep in mind that privileges and benefits, if abused, can be limited or taken away.
You are a citizen of the FSM, welcome to America. Make your family, your home island community and your country proud of you!
Please click on each of the topics below to reach its full content.
It is important to learn as much as you can about a given place in the US before you move. Reliable sources of information may be found at libraries, websites, tourist brochures, trusted friends and/or family members.
In this day and age of computers, email, websites and the world wide web, please note that libraries often provide computers for use (at low cost) to search for information on the internet. It would be wise to become familiar with computers and the internet as most general information about anything can be found on the internet.
It is also important that you are gainfully employed and have sufficient financial resources to reside in the US. Essentials such as housing, food, transportation, education and health care for example will cost money. Please also keep in mind that having a good credit history (paying debts fully and in a timely manner) is also very important.
An important function of the FSM embassies and consulates is to provide information and assist citizens as authorized. Citizens are encouraged to call their FSM overseas offices, before travel or upon arrival in the US, for information. The better informed you are, the better off you will be as a visitor or a resident in the US.
Under the Amended Compact, it is required by law that an FSM citizen must have a valid FSM passport upon entry into the US.
Under the amended Compact, all FSM & US citizens must travel with a valid passport. This is applicable to minors as well. The application process for a passport can be time consuming, so it is highly recommended that you plan and take necessary action in a timely manner.
In 2007, FSM Immigration/Passport office began issuing machine-readable passport valid for 5 years.
Passport Processing Fees:
- New or Renewal Passport — processing fee is $50.00.
- Lost/Damaged/Mutilated Passport — processing fee is $75.00.
- Unexpired Passport Needing Additional Visa Pages — processing fee is $25.
Please follow this link(Revised FSM Passport Form & Instructions) for more details.
Passport applications are normally processed in 7 days. Submitting incomplete applications may cause delays in processing and issuance of your passport. By FSM law, FSM Immigration/Passport Office in Pohnpei is the only authorized government agency to issue passports.
Passport applications may be requested from FSM Immigration in the FSM, or any FSM Embassy or Consulate overseas or can be dowloaded from www.fsmembassydc.org. Completed and notarized applications must be sent directly to the FSM National Government at:
FSM Department of Justice
Chief, Division of Immigration
P.O. Box PS-105
Palikir, Pohnpei FM 96941
Tel: (691) 320-5844
Fax: (691) 320-7250
Upon entry into any US port (i.e. Guam, Hawaii, Newark), the first clearance point will be US Customs and Border Protection(US CBP). Under the Compact of Free Association, as amended, it is required for FSM citizens to have a valid passport (no visa required) to enter the US. FSM citizens are required to complete the I-94 form before approaching the US CBP Officers. The I-94 card must be filled out each time you enter the US.
US Customs and Border Protection officials will inspect your passport and other travel documents, if necessary, upon arrival. Part of the I-94 card will be stapled into your passport for you to keep. Both the passport and I-94 card will be stamped with the arrival date and port of entry.
A US Customs and Border Protection officer will notate “CFA/FSM” “D/S” on your I-94 card and passport. “CFA” stands for Compact of Free Association. The I-94 card is a very important document; it proves that you have entered the US legally. Do not lose the I-94 card.
If your I-94 card is lost or damaged, you must apply for a replacement I-94 through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS). You must complete and submit Form I-102(Application for Replacement/Initial I-94) to the respective USCIS Lockbox Office. Be informed that there is a fee for processing of your Form I-102 and the fee is subject to change by the US CIS. Currently, the processing fee is $445.00.
Click here to download the most updated version of Form I-102(Application for Replacement/Initial I-94). Since the form is updated from time to time, you should visit this link for future updates.
The I-94 card does not expire. When you leave the US, immigration officials or airline personnel will remove the I-94 card from your passport. This will indicate to the US Department of Homeland Security that you have left the country.
Please note that when an FSM passport expires, the I-94 is still valid as long as one is still in the US. When having your passport renewed, please remove the I-94 and keep it in a safe place. Do not lose your I-94. If any US Department of Homeland Security officials have a suspicion as to individuals entering the US, they have the right to require fingerprinting and scanning of retina.
Under the Amended Compact of Free Association, FSM citizens are granted the right to live, travel, study and work in the US. Neither a green card nor an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required. However, the Embassy strongly recommends that all citizens apply for the EAD card for necessary identification purposes.
While FSM citizens are eligible for most employment opportunities in the US on a non-discriminatory basis, there are some jobs requiring a security clearance which is only available to US citizens. Certain other positions such as in law enforcement, on US military bases or with the US Federal or a State government, may require US citizenship, as a matter of law.
Although the EAD is no longer required, under the amended Compact, to work, it is still strongly recommended that citizens obtain the EAD card. It serves as a valuable form of second identification and is very often required by other US agencies such as Departments of Motor Vehicles, schools or other social services agencies.
The EAD card is obtained from US Immigration using application form I-765. The fee is normally $180, however the processing fee for applications for FSM citizens is waived/free. The EAD card which was once issued and valid for 1 year, is now now valid for 4 years. Copies of valid passport, copy of I-94, and two photos (frontal view) are required for the application. All EAD applications for FSM citizens regardless of state of residence must be mailed to Homeland Security in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The EAD application with complete instructions may be downloaded from the USCIS website here: FORM I765
FSM students are eligible to attend public schools in the US provided that they meet the school’s requirements. The Compact of Free Association does not guarantee eligibility for in-state tuition.
Public Schools (elementary through high school) are usually free. Post-secondary education however, can be expensive. College and University tuition varies from institution to institution. FSM citizens are eligible for Pell Grants and may apply for other scholarship opportunities offered. FSM citizens are not eligible for US Federal Government Student Loans. It is the responsibility of each student to seek other sources of financial assistance for education.
Under the amended Compact, students enrolled after June 25, 2005, will not be eligible for the US federally funded programs – SEOG & Work Study. BUT, those already enrolled before that date will be eligible for the next four years. The SEOG and Workstudy program will be phased in under the Supplemental Education Program which will be administered by the FSM Government.
Students are also encouraged to contact the FSM Department of Health, Education & Social Affairs or their local State Departments of Education to inquire about financial assistance for which they may qualify.
All FSM citizens are entitled to a US Social Security Card without any prohibiting language on the face of the card. Cards issued to FSM citizens with the language “not allowed to work without INS authorization” have been issued in error and should be returned to the nearest Social Security office to be reissued. Social security numbers are issued on a permanent basis. If you lose your card or forgot your SS number, you should visit your nearest Social Security Office for assistance. All FSM citizens must show valid passport and I-94. Having the EAD card (although not required) can be helpful.
The Social Security Administration is a federal retirement system that is supported by withholding from employee paychecks. The social security number is the cardholders personal account number for social security withholding and payment of benefits. It is also used by many other federal and state agencies in the US for identification purposes. Most US employers will expect FSM applicants to have social security numbers.
FSM citizens are eligible to apply for Social Security benefits upon retirement (age 62). FSM citizens must have been gainfully employed in the US and paying social security deductions for at least 40 quarters or ten (10) years. Should an FSM citizen cease to be employed before working the 40 quarters, there is no current process for obtaining a refund of the amount withheld from paychecks to the social security administration.
For more information and for applications for the social security card, you can visit the US Social Security Administration website at http://www.ssa.gov or the office nearest you.
Any FSM citizen who has been apprehended and incarcerated has the right to an attorney/public defender. Under the Geneva Convention, persons are allowed the chance to contact their embassies or family to notify of their detention.
FSM citizens who are convicted of a criminal or civil offense in US judiciary system, must abide by judge’s orders and serve whatever sentence has been rendered (jail time, fines, probation, etc.). Purposeful evasion of the law or violating court orders may be considered a criminal offense. FSM citizens who have been convicted of a felony will be held for deportation AFTER serving their sentenced jail term.
A felony is a serious crime that merits one year or more of prison time. The US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and US Homeland Security regulations state that crimes of “moral turpitude” (bribery, theft, sexual offenses, et. al..) are considered deportable offenses whether they are felonies or not.
If you are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude and have served your jail time, US Homeland Security will usually begin processing you for deportation. Processing includes being held in a Federal Detention Center, appearing before a deportation/immigration judge and finally deportation from the US. This process may take months to complete, during which the deportee remains in confinement. Bail does not apply. Once deported from the US, a person is permanently barred from returning or transiting through the US and/or its territories and possessions. Once deported back to the FSM, it is possible to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility with US Homeland Security. In the FSM, that application is available through the US Embassy. This is a lengthy and costly process, and the odds of success are low.
FSM citizens, who are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude in the US, any FSM Court or another country and have served time, will be listed with the US Homeland Security as inadmissible to the US.
The FSM has an Extradition Agreement with the US which remains in force under the Amended Compact. If you commit a crime in the US and move back to the FSM, the US can and may request the FSM government for your extradition back to the US to face trial for your offense.
Since 9/11 and increasingly, ALL non-US citizens in the US who do not abide by the law should expect to be subjected to increased scrutiny by law enforcement officials.
Attitudes in the US toward heavy drinking and public drunkenness are very disapproving. Offenses committed while drunk such as fighting, sexual misconduct, malicious wounding, and destruction of property are not forgiven. Formal apologies are not part of the US culture and have no legal significance.
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is against the law in the US. The penalties for drinking and driving are very severe.
Some states, such as Texas and Missouri, consider 3 DUI convictions to be a deportable offense for a non-US citizen.
Consumption of alcohol, if done, must be done in a responsible manner. The possession, use of and/or trafficking (selling) of drugs of any kind is treated as a serious crime of moral turpitude carrying long prison sentences followed by deportation.
Laws defining sex crimes are spelled out in Territorial, State and Federal jurisdictions and are strictly enforced. Rape is classified as one of the most serious felony offenses. Sex with a minor (19 or younger), with or without consent, is a very serious offense called “statutory rape”. When convicted of this offense, the average minimum jail sentence is 12 years.
In the US, violence, abuse and/or harassment against another individual, including spouses or friends is against the law. In most jurisdictions, the state will criminally prosecute an offense even if the defendant has forgiven the offender.
Children are strongly protected under US law. If for any reason, doctors, teachers, friends, or even strangers suspect abuse or neglect of a child in your care, the State has the authority to intervene on behalf of the child. Children can and will be removed from the custody of parents for their safety during investigation. Those convicted of abusing children, including parents, will be jailed, and their children taken away.
Note: FSM citizens must remember that in all matters legal or otherwise, the Micronesian customs and traditional methods of forgiveness are not accepted or recognized by any law enforcement authorities in the US.
Please be advised that when traveling to, from or within the US, parents and/or legal guardians must accompany minor children. Anyone who is traveling with a minor, without proper legal documentation, may be suspected or charged with kidnapping.
FSM families residing in the US who bring into their household, friends or relatives who are minors, should first obtain the necessary legal documentation to prove guardianship so as to be able to render any decisions concerning education, medical and other relevant issues.
Owning a motor vehicle means that you are the primary legal and registered owner of the car. As owner, you are responsible for maintenance, insurance, safety inspections and all other matters concerning the vehicle.
You must be in possession of a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance while operating a motor vehicle. You must follow and obey all traffic laws and regulations. You are also responsible for the safety of your passengers at all times.
Driver’s licenses are issued by the Departments of Motor Vehicles in each State. Unexpired passport and I-94 are required to obtain a Driver License/ID card. DMV offices may require additional unexpired ID cards such as an EAD card, social security card and other documentation if further verification of your immigration documents is needed before a final determination to approve or disapprove a driver’s license application. Individual US State’s or Territory’s DMV Department or agency, depending on its own Driver License/ID card regulations, may or may not accept a valid Driver License or ID card from FSM. It is a good practice to familiarize or educate your self on the Driver License/ID Card requirements/regulations of the US State you live in BEFORE applying for a new or renewal Driver License/ID card.
The FSM government, embassies and consulates are not responsible for health care costs associated with hospitalization, clinical visits or death of FSM citizens who do not have health insurance. Each citizen is responsible to ensure that he/she has health insurance. In the US it is recommended that those seeking employment inquire about health care and other related benefits through their employers or schools.
The Compact of Free Association does not guarantee any rights to social, medical or welfare benefits in the US. Eligibility for such programs rests entirely at the discretion of each US State.
The FSM Embassy in Washington and Consulate offices in Guam and Hawaii can assist in preparing required paperwork for the repatriation of deceased FSM citizens from the US. The FSM Government, embassies and consulates are not financially responsible for the repatriation of FSM citizens who die overseas. All costs associated with the funeral home preparations, services and repatriation are the sole responsibility of the family.
Approximate costs involving repatriation of the deceased are as follow:
Repatriation to the FSM: preparation for paper work, embalming, casket, funeral services, and air transportation can cost up to $8,000 or more.
Burial in the US: Burial in the US involves the purchase of a burial plot in a cemetery, which can be costly. The costs would also range in the thousands of dollars.
Cremation: Cremations is the burning of remains until only the ashes are left. Cremation costs vary, but usually run in the range of $5,000 or less.
Consistent with FSM laws and regulations, FSM citizens may continue to cast their votes while overseas. It is the responsibility of each citizen to contact the National Election Director or the Election Commissioners in their respective states to request absentee ballots and voting information on upcoming elections.
FSM National Election Director
Chuuk State Election Commissioner
P.O. Box 10, Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
Tel: (691) 330-5852
Fax (691) 330-5904
Pohnpei State Election Comm.
P.O. Box 1924, Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
Tel/Fax: (691) 320-7805
Kosrae State Election Commissioner
P.O. Box 340, Tofol, Kosrae FM 96944
Tel: (691) 370-2372
Fax: (691) 320-2850
Yap State Election Commissioner
P.O. Box 849, Colonia, Yap 96943
Tel: (691) 350-4217
Fax: (691) 350-4641
Please expect that US Homeland Security officials will be very vigilant in reviewing identification and proof of citizenship in all matters.
It is strongly recommended that FSM citizens take special care of their passports, I-94 cards, EAD’s, social security cards, notarized birth certificates, and any other important documents or forms of identification. All documents should be kept current and up-to-date. It can be very time-consuming and expensive to replace lost or damaged documents and citizens may lose certain privileges or benefits while important documents are being replaced.
It is also strongly recommended that FSM citizens moving to the US, call the nearest FSM Consulates or the FSM Embassy in Washington to register and obtain helpful information.
FSM Department of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box PS-123
Palikir, Pohnpei FM 96941
Federated States of Micronesia
Telephone: (691) 320-2641
Fax: (691) 320-2933
FSM Embassy to the United States of America
1725 “N” Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 223-4383
Fax: (202) 223-4391
FSM Mission to the United Nations
300 E. 42nd Street, 1600
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 697-8370
Fax: (212) 697-8295
FSM Consulate General
3049 Ualena Street, Suite 412
Honolulu, HI 96819
Telephone: (808) 836-4775
Fax: (808) 836-6896
FSM Consulate General
P.O. Box 10630 (located in ITC Building)
Tamuning, Guam 96931
Telephone: (671) 646-9154
Fax: (671) 649-6320
FSM Embassy to Japan
Reinanzaka Building, 2nd floor
1-14-2, Akasaka 1-chome
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107 JAPAN
Telephone: (81-33) 585-5456
Fax: (81-33) 585-5348
FSM Embassy to Fiji
P.O. Box 15493
Telephone: (679) 3304-180/566
Fax: (679) 3304-081
The FSM Embassy in Washington, DC welcomes and encourages comments and suggestions for inclusion in future revisions of this website edition of “Essential Information for Citizens – Rights and Responsibilities.”