What is the Cuban Adjustment Act?
The Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted by the United States Congress on November 2, 1996 and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This law applies to Cuban citizens who have been admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959, that have been in the U.S. for at least one year and are eligible to receive permanent resident status. The law allows Cubans, their spouses and their children to become permanent residents through adjustment of status. The law was enacted after Fidel Castro’s revolution when anti-communist Cubans received preferential immigration conditions because they came from a neighbor and ally of the US.
Prior to 1995 the United States allowed any and all Cubans who reached U.S. territorial waters to remain in the United States. President Bill Clinton reached an agreement with the Cuban government that the U.S. would stop admitting people intercepted in U.S. waters, and would only accept those that made it the United States shores. This was known as the ‘Wet foot, dry foot policy.’ In 2017 President Barack Obama ended that policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act reverted to its original interpretation.
Who is eligible for Adjustment of Status under CAA?
There are several requirements you must meet to be eligible for a green card under the Cuban Adjustment Act. Those requirements are:
- You must have a properly filed Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- You must be a native citizen of Cuba.
- You have to have been inspected and admitted or paroled after January 1, 1959.
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year at the time you file your Form I-485.
- You must be admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
- USCIS, at their discretion, determine you are eligible.
How do I prove I am a Cuban citizen?
If you were born in Cuba, you can show your Cuban citizenship by presenting a Cuban passport, expired or unexpired, or Cuban birth certificate issued by the appropriate civil registry in Cuba. If you were born outside of Cuba, you can present an unexpired Cuban passport, nationality certificate or citizenship letter. Please note that a Cuban consular certificate stating your birth outside of Cuba is not sufficient to establish Cuban citizenship.
How do I prove I was inspected and admitted or paroled after January 1, 1959?
Evidence of your lawful admission or parole into the United States could include your passport and Form I-94. If the Department of Homeland Security paroles you, and you have already been present in the U.S. for at least one year at the time of that parole, you may apply for adjustment of status immediately after being paroled.
How do I apply for a green card based on CAA?
If you are currently in the U.S and have been for at least one year, and you meet the requirements above you can file a Form I-485. Due to the many requirements, forms, fees and possible exemptions involved in applying for an adjustment of status based on the Cuban Adjustment Act, it is important to speak with a qualified immigration attorney. Our experienced Immigration lawyers can help you understand the information you need to provide and make sure all your documents and filing fees are submitted correctly.
What if I am in Immigration court, can I still apply for CAA?
You may still qualify for CAA even if you were placed into Removal Proceedings upon entering the United States. It is vital to find an experienced immigration attorney who knows how to navigate this tricky area of immigration law. Just being in the US does not mean you qualify for CAA. You must meet all other requirements including being admitted or paroled. If you were placed into Removal Proceedings, most likely you will not be eligible at first. However, our experienced attorneys have been successful in still getting Cubans to qualify for CAA even in Removal proceedings.
Are my family members eligible for a green card under CAA if I am?
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to apply for a green card as a family member under the CAA if they are not Cuban natives or citizens provided you meet the CAA requirements. It is also important to note that your family members can apply no matter how long the relationship has existed. It does not matter whether the relationship began before or after you adjusted to lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, your family member must properly file their Form I-485 together with your previously approved Form I-485.
What is the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program?
The CFRPP allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file a family-based petition to help their Cuban relatives immigrate. This may be an option if the Cuban Adjustment Act is not. If you are trying to decide what options are available to you and your family members contact our qualified Immigration attorneys today.