Status Of Students From The Republic of the Marshall Islands

Qualifying citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) may enroll in U.S. educational institutions without obtaining a student (F-1) visa, and may freely seek employment in the United States without an “Employment Authorization Document” (Form I-766 or “EAD”).

Essentially, a college can admit a student from the RMI who meets the qualifications described below following the same procedures as would apply for a U.S. citizen applicant.

The Compact of Free Association Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-239) between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands established the RMI as an independent nation, and enacted a special relationship between the two countries. The Compact of Free Association between the United States and the RMI took effect on October 21, 1986. The Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-188) amended the Compact in a number of significant ways. The Compact, as amended, became effective for the RMI on May 1, 2004.

The following RMI citizens (including students) are entitled under the Compact to travel and apply for admission to the United States as nonimmigrants without visas:

  • Citizens of the RMI by birth and those citizens of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) who acquired RMI citizenship in 1986.
  • An immediate relative (spouse or unmarried son/daughter under 21 years of age) of a birth citizen or former TTPI citizen, provided that the immediate relative is a naturalized RMI citizen and has been an actual resident of the FSM or RMI for at least five years, and (if a spouse) has been married to the RMI natural citizen for at least five years.
  • A naturalized RMI citizen whose name is on a list furnished by the RMI Government of residents for five years as of April 30, 2003.

If determined admissible under the Compact, an RMI citizen may live, study and work in the United States. At the present time, RMI citizens are granted an unlimited length of stay, also referred to as “D/S” or “duration of status.”