The Compacts of Free Association are joint congressional-executive agreements between the US and the FSM, the RMI and the Republic of Palau. These agreements establish, in part, that citizens of these areas may enter, engage in occupation, and establish residence as nonimmigrants (a status that typically signifies nonpermanent visitors such as tourists or students) in the United States and their territories and possessions.
Three Pacific island nations – FSM, Palau, Marshall Islands have entered into compacts with the United States. Compact goals included achieving self government, promoting economic advancement, and securing security and defense rights.
Under the compacts, the US has a responsibility for the defense of the FAS, and the compacts provide the US with exclusive military use rights in these countries. In addition, under the compacts, the US provides economic assistance and access to certain federal services and programs. Basically, the US funds the FSM, RMI and Palau for a range of development programs, immigration privileges, US transportation of mail, and other benefits. In exchange, each Pacific nation guarantees the US exclusive use of its land for military purposes.
The compacts provide for citizens of these feely associated states (FAS) to enter and reside indefinitely in the U.S. Under the compacts of free association, citizens of the FAS are exempt from meeting the visa and labor certification requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The migration provisions of the compacts allow compact migrants to enter the US (including all US states, territories, and possessions) and to lawfully work and establish residence indefinitely.
According to the FY 2016 Compact Impact Report, the Government of Guam expended $142 million in FY 2016 for providing educational and social services to migrants from the Freely Associated States to Guam under the provisions of the Compacts. Education accounted for the largest share of reported expenses at $68 million in 2016 with the Guam Department of Education expending a total of $62.6 million for School Year 2015-2016. The cost for providing health care and welfare services followed making up $38.4 million. Public safety agencies reported expenditures at $34.9 million in FY 2016. For the past thirteen years, the Government of Guam expended a total of $1.07 billion in accrued costs. “We continue to see considerable growth of regional migrants to our island. Full reimbursement is essential to providing the necessary health care, education, safety, and social service programs to regional migrant families and their children who have chosen to make Guam their home,” says Manuel Q. Cruz, Deputy Director, Bureau of Statistics and Plans.