Micronesian Ambassadors in D.C. collaborate on a Joint-Letter to the U.S. Government seeking resolution to a variety of citizens’ issues

Washington D.C., – 03 May 2021 – A joint-letter signed on April 28th by the three U.S.-accredited Ambassadors of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), was sent to Ms. Kathryn Paik, Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands at the National Security Council (NSC). This is the latest collaboration among the three Ambassadors of the Freely Associated States (FAS), seeking assistance with the NSC regarding some consular issues that citizens of the three FAS countries residing in the United States continued to encounter.

The Ambassadors first appealed to the U.S. Government to resolve an ongoing impasse faced by citizens relating to the mismatched of immigration documents particularly for I-94s matching up with a newly renewed citizens’ passport. Upon entry into the United States, FAS citizens are issued a ‘duration of stay’ status on a non-expiring I-94 that corresponds with the current unexpired passport. When the current passport eventually expires and a new passport is issued, a mismatch of documents resulted and the U.S. verification system is not properly designed to accommodate changes in documents despite citizens presenting newly issued and renewed unexpired passports. A whole new process of verification by the U.S. side is put in place creating a lot of problems and inconveniences on the part of citizens.

Another issue that the Ambassadors also raised is the prolonging delay for new social security (SS) applicants to receive their respective SS cards. For years the turnaround for applying for a new social security card is usually three (3) to four (4) weeks. But unfortunately, due to the system not properly reflecting FAS immigration status, many citizens are stuck with having to wait six (6) to seven (7) months to receive their cards. When citizens would confront the SSA Offices, the blame is often pointed back to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its computerized system of verification.

The three Ambassadors also called for full implementation of Medicaid eligibility for eligible Micronesians in accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Despite the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act and it put into law in December 2020 restoring FAS citizens’ Medicaid eligibility, its full implementation is far from being achieved as many States in the U.S. continued be lacking behind in their implementing of the law.

And finally, the Ambassadors also renewed their call for correction to the REAL ID Modification Act which was signed into law in 2018. Many States continue to issue REAL IDs to citizens of the FAS countries with limited terms often with renewable one-year validity, which is inconvenient and inconsistent with the said 2018 Act that called for eligibility for full-term qualifications similar to any U.S. citizen.

The three Ambassadors have individually raised these issues before but currently find the need to collaborate with a unified voice as they have done on many other occasions. They opted to write to the NSC in cognition of NSC’s central role in facilitating key issues of concern raised by the three countries with the U.S.

Please contact the Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in D.C., at (202)223-2383 should you have any questions or comments regarding the above release.

File: Letter to NSC