Understanding the Cuban Adjustment Act

Who Qualifies for the CAA?

The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) was enacted in 1966 as a reply to the mass immigration after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, and the efforts of the U.S. government to tumble the Castro regime. CAA provides significant immigration benefits to Cubans citizens or nationals and their accompanying spouses and children.

Cuban natives may apply for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) one year after entering the United States, through "inspection and admission or parole." This is the so-called "1 year and 1 day" rule.

They must not have reasons of ineligibility in the United States and have no criminal records or fraud problems.

Spouse and Minor Children of Cuban CitizensNew Jersey Immigration Lawyer

The spouses and children (unmarried and not yet 21 years old) are also eligible for adjustment under the CAA. They must reside with the alien in the United States and must be eligible to receive an immigrant visa.

More recently, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has argued that for spouses and children, the Cuban must have obtained his Green card as a CU6.

A CU6 Green card is the category under which a Cuban is granted permanent resident status under the CAA.

A CU7 Green card is the category under which the non-Cuban spouse or child of a Cuban CU6, is granted permanent residency under the CAA.

Thus, the spouse and children may request a Green Card, regardless of their country of nationality or place of birth, if:

  • The family relationship continues to exist until the spouse or child receives a Green Card;
  • The family relationship has been established before the Cuban national has applied for the Green Card;
  • The application for the Green Card is sent together with that of the spouse or children.

Almost 50 years later, the CAA continues to regularize the status of Cubans regardless of how they enter the United States. CAA is not nearly as strict as most immigration programs and public charge ground of inadmissibility does not apply to Cuban applicants under the CAA. They are the only nationality to which Congress has awarded these special treatments:

  • Overstays, transit visa entrants (under C-1 or D-1 visas) or Cubans who have worked without authorization can get a Green card through the CAA, even if they do not meet the ordinary requirements for Adjustment of Status under section § 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Children, including acquired sons or daughters, and spouse are eligible for Green Cards under the Cuban Adjustment Act even if they are not Cuban.
  • Regardless the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which stated that arrival in the United States at a place other than an open port-of-entry is a ground of inadmissibility, Cubans who have entered the U.S. without inspection (EWI) may render themselves eligible, under the CAA, by requesting parole status at a USCIS field office. Exactly, if a Cuban is caught at sea between the two nations, "with wet feet", he/she will be sent back home or to a third country; if a Cuban is caught to U.S. shores, "with dry feet", he/she will be lawfully paroled into the U. S. This is the so called "wet foot, dry foot" policy.
  • The Immigration Court does not have any authority over the Application for Adjustment of Status (I-485). Cuban immigrants have to file their Green cards paperwork with the USCIS.

As an immigration attorney in New Jersey, I have extensive experience with applications for Green Card, including Cuban petitions under the CAA. To learn more, please contact my law firm.

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