Who is Eligible to Become a Green Card Holder through the Cuban Adjustment Act?

If you are a native or citizen of Cuba, or you are the immediate relative of a Cuban, and you are admissible as an immigrant, then through Cuban Adjustment Act, you can apply to become a green card holder one year and one day after entering the United States through “inspection, admission or parole.”

Types of Entry

  • Inspection and admission or parole: Cubans who are inspected by U.S. immigration officials at a port of entry and are admitted into the United States in a valid visa status (ex. on a visitor visa) and who then remain in the United States for one year may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.
  • Parole: Cubans who appear at a U.S. border crossing and indicate that they are Cuban and would like to enter the United States should be “paroled in” to the United States. This essentially means that the individual will be allowed to enter country even though he or she does not have a valid visa, and may be eligible to apply to adjust his or her status to become a green card holder after residing in the United States for one year.
  • Entry Without Inspection (“EWI”): If a Cuban tries to enter the country illegally, without presenting him or herself at a port of entry, then there may be another way to “fix” the way that he or she entered the country. The Cuban native or citizen may later present him or herself at any U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office and request parole status.

When applying for a green card under the CAA, Cuban citizens and natives will find that:

  • They Don’t Need to be Eligible for Asylum: There is no requirement that the individual apply for or be granted asylum before having his or her green card application approved. In other words, the Cuban citizen or native need not have any fear of returning to Cuba in order to obtain benefits under the CAA.
  • Family: The spouse and children of a Cuban citizen or native are also eligible for relief under the CAA. This is true even if the spouse and/or children are not natives or citizens of Cuba themselves. Furthermore, even if the spouse married the Cuban national or citizen following the Cuban immigrant’s entrance into the United States (or children were born following the Cuban immigrant’s entrance into the U.S.), the spouse and children remain eligible for relief under the CAA.
  • Eligibility for Work Permit: Cubans who were paroled into the United States are eligible to apply for work permits immediately after being paroled into the United States. However, Cubans who were not paroled into the United States may only file an application for a work permit concurrently with their applications for a green card.

Potential Challenges in Seeking Benefits Under the CAA

While the Cuban Adjustment Act appears to provide many favorable benefits to Cubans seeking to obtain permanent status in the United States, the process is not without its challenges. Without experienced representation throughout the green card application process, a Cuban native or citizen may become discouraged or confused and abandon his or her application. The process may appear complicated or challenging because:

  • Removal proceedings: Cubans who are paroled into the United States may be placed in immigration court while their green card application is being processed. This may make the person believe his or her application lacks merit or will be denied. An experienced immigration lawyer in Los Angeles will know that this is not the case, though. He will be able to help sort through the complex procedures in immigration court and request that the judge either close the case or grant a continuance to allow time for the green card application to be resolved.
  • Communist Party membership: One question on the green card application form asks if the immigrant is or ever was a member of the Communist Party, which is often a source of concerns to Cubans. In general, membership in the Communist Party can be grounds for denial of a green card application. However, U.S. immigration officials do not generally deny the applications of individuals who were involuntary members of the Communist Party in Cuba (i.e., those people who were forced to become members of the Communist Party against their will or who were not given a choice about joining).

Recent Developments: Surge in Number of Cubans Entering the United States

As the L.A. Times has recently reported, now that relations between the United States and Cuba are normalizing, many Cuban immigrants fear that the benefits available under the CAA will not be available for much longer. This has accounted for a large surge in Cuban immigrants appearing at the U.S. border and requesting to enter the country, especially at border crossing points in Texas, Arizona, and California. If there is any legal change in the CAA or the way that it is being applied, experience immigration attorney Joshua Goldstein will keep you informed and up-to-date by posting new information here on our firm’s website.

Contact s Los Angeles Cuban Adjustment Act Attorney

A Los Angeles Cuban Adjustment Act lawyer can provide you with peace of mind by helping you navigate the ins and outs of the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA). Our team at the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers can assist you with all aspects of the CAA and the green card application process. Please answer a few questions here and schedule your free case evaluation.