The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 provides significant green cards and other immigration benefits to Cubans and their family members. This law gives Cuban citizens or nationals and their immediate relatives, i.e., children and spouses, the opportunity to apply for permanent residency one year after entering the United States through “inspection and admission or parole.”
Preferential treatment for Cubans seeking a green card
The Cuban Adjustment Act is an extraordinarily generous immigration relief program that waives various grounds of inadmissibility. For instance:
- The Cuban Adjustment Act contains a “roll back” provision, which back-dates permanent residency approval by 30 months;
- An “asylum” claim is not required. So Cubans can get a green card under the CAA even if they have no fear of returning to Cuba;
- Dependents, i.e., children and spouses–including after-acquired spouses and children!–are eligible for green cards under the Cuban Adjustment Act even if they are not Cuban; and
- Crewmen (entrants under C-1 or D-1 visas) can get green cards through the Cuban Adjustment Act; so can overstays, transit visa entrants, those who have worked without authorization or who have entered through the Visa Waiver Program.
Where to file for a green card under the Cuban Adjustment Act
USCIS accepts I-485 applications for Cuban applicants under the CAA at the Texas Service Center, regardless of where the applicant lives.
Cuban Adjustment Act – Filing Requirements
- Form I-485, Application by Cuban Refugee for Permanent Residence;
- form G-325A, Biographic Information
- form FD-258, Fingerprint Chart;
- 2 Passport Photos;
- form I-693, Medical Report;
- form I-643, Health and Human Services Statistical Data Sheet; and
- a clearance from the local police jurisdiction for any area in the U.S. where the applicant has lived for six months or longer since his or her 14th birthday.
Green cards for Cubans who’ve entered without inspection
The Cuban Adjustment Act requires entry to the U.S. through “inspection, admission or parole.” What if the Cuban applicant enters the U.S. without inspection, i.e., EWI; in other words, someone who sneaks across the U.S-Mexican border? According to USCIS memos, Cubans present in the United States who have entered the U.S. without inspection may render themselves eligible under the Cuban Adjustment by requesting parole status at a USCIS field office. This USCIS memo provides legal guidance on the parole request procedure and asks officers to exercise favorable discretion when handling such requests. Keep in mind that it would be foolish for any Cuban to try to enter the U.S. without inspection since any Cuban who wishes to enter the U.S. could appear at a border crossing and request entry into the U.S. with parole status under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Work permits under the Cuban Adjustment Act
Under the CAA, work permits, i.e, Employment Authorization Documents, are only immediately available to those Cubans who have been paroled into the United States. Cubans who have not been paroled into the United States have to wait to apply for work permits in conjunction with their green card applications, which can typically be filed one year after “inspection, admission or parole” into the U.S.
Cuban Adjustment Act cases often involve Immigration Court
If you are paroled into the United States as a Cuban parolee, then you will likely be placed into removal or deportation proceedings. As a Cuban parolee, you would be considered an “arriving alien,” which means that even though you are in deportation proceedings, the Immigration Court would not have jurisdiction over your application for adjustment of status. In Cuban Adjustment Cases, we typically either ask the Immigration Court to administratively close proceedings or ask for a lengthy continuance. None of this administrative complexity would affects the merits of your case or your likelihood of success.
Membership in Communist Party?
On Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, applicants will be asked whether you’ve ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party. This question is a cause for concern for many Cubans. My experience as an immigration lawyer suggests that most USCIS officers are not generally looking to deny Cubans based on Communist Party membership or affiliation.
Cuban Communist Party membership or affiliation is a potential grounds of denial under the so-called Totalitarian Party-Related Inadmissibility Provisions. See Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(a)(3)(D)(i). But U.S. immigration laws provide an exception if the applicant was an involuntary member.
The USCIS Adjudicators Field Manuals says that, where Cuban applicants indicate a connection to the Communist Party, the immigration officer should take a statement from the applicant to get the details while keeping the involuntary membership exception in mind.
How our immigration lawyers can help you take advantage of the Cuban Adjustment Act
If you have questions about the Cuban Adjustment Act, please call us at (617) 722-0005 to schedule a consultation. Our immigration attorneys are happy to meet with you and evaluate your situation. We can help you prepare a successful, well-documented application and help you avoid pitfalls along the way.