What is the Cuban Adjustment Act? Have there been changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act since the repeal of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy?

By February 14, 2017November 20th, 2020Deportation & Humanitarian Immigration, Immigration

When an individual applies for a green card within the United States, an application is submitted for an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. To qualify for adjustment of status (green card), one generally needs to have lawfully entered the United States, have maintained lawful status, and have an immigrant visa available through a petitioning family member or employer. There are a number of other forms of adjustment of status for various groups of individuals, including refugees & asylees, victims of domestic violence, victims of certain crimes who have cooperated with law enforcement, and certain children who cannot be reunited with their parents. Eligibility for adjustment of status (green card) is slightly different for each of these classes of individuals.  For more information on adjustment of status, please click here.

One group of individuals eligible for adjustment of status are people who were born in Cuba or who have Cuban nationality, who were lawfully admitted or paroled into United States, and who have resided in the United States for at least one year. This law is called the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) and it was enacted in 1966.

Another U.S. policy, known as “wet foot/dry foot”, provided that Cubans who made it to U.S. soil would be allowed to enter, whether or not the individual was in possession of a valid visa. The technical name for the admittance process is parole.  Once being paroled into the United States, a Cuban individual would be eligible for adjustment of status (green card) after one year through the CAA.

On January 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security under former President Obama repealed the “wet food/dry foot” policy as part of its efforts to ameliorate relations between the United States and Cuba. The repeal of the policy left many wondering whether the CAA would also be repealed.

As of now, the CAA is still law and anyone who may qualify can still apply for a green card. The CAA applies to any Cuban who was admitted in any nonimmigrant status or paroled into the United States. The USCIS application fees can also be waived for individuals who can prove financial hardship. As we have seen, the current administration is focusing much of its attention on our immigration system, and there is a possibility that the CAA may change during the course of this administration. If you think you may qualify for adjustment of status through the CAA, please consult with an immigration attorney sooner than later.

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