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A Few Things to Know About the Cuban Adjustment Act


The United States has some special immigration laws for those coming from Cuba. In particular, in 1966, the United States enacted the Cuban Adjustment Act ("CAA"). The CAA was enacted to provide humanitarian relief to Cubans after the fall of Cuba to communism in 1959. Under the CAA, Cubans and their spouses and children are presumed to be political refugees and, thus, entitled to various waivers and specialized processing. The CAA allows Cubans and their dependents to become lawful permanent residents -- that is, to obtain a "green card" -- through the adjustment of status procedures.

Eligibility for the Primary Applicant

As listed here on the immigration services' website, to qualify under the CAA, a person must meet these eligibility requirements:

  • Have properly filed a Form I-485 ("Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status")
  • Be a native or citizen of Cuba
  • Been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after Jan. 1, 1959
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least one year at the time the Form I-485 is filed
  • Are physically present in the United States at the time the Form I-485 is filed
  • Meet the various criteria for admissibility or are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief and
  • Merits the favorable exercise of discretion by the US immigration services

An example of a criteria of inadmissibility is a conviction for drug trafficking. An example of an inadmissibility factor that might be waived is membership in the communist party.

Eligibility for Secondary Beneficiaries Under the CAA

As noted, a Cuban who is eligible to become a lawful permanent resident under the CAA can "bring" their spouse and children into the United States under the CAA rules and regulations. We will call spouses and children "secondary beneficiaries." The eligibility requirements for secondary beneficiaries are slightly different. For example, a spouse must meet the eligibility requirements above, BUT does NOT have to be a Cuban native or citizen. Thus, for example, a citizen of Mexico who is married to a Cuban may apply under the CAA. The spouses must be married at the time the Form I-485 is filed and the spouses must reside together during the process (although there is an exception in cases of domestic abuse).

The same is true for children of the primary applicant. Such children do NOT have to be Cuban natives or citizens, BUT must otherwise meet the eligibility requirements listed above and be under the age of 21 when the Form I-485 is filed. Again, generally, the children must reside with the parents (although, again, there is an exception in cases of domestic abuse).

Special Benefits Provided by the CAA

As noted, there are many special benefits provided to those seeking lawful residency status and naturalization under the CAA. As one example, after receiving a green card, typically holders may begin the process of naturalization after five years from the date of approval. However, the CAA provides a 30-month "rollback" of that "approval date” to calculate the date on which a Cuban can begin the process of naturalization. This CAA provision allows Cubans to obtain naturalization faster than non-Cubans.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.


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