The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996 (CAA) provides for a special procedure under which Cuban natives or citizens, and their accompanying spouses and children, may obtain a haven in the United States as lawful permanent residents. The CAA gives the Attorney General the discretion to grant permanent residence to Cuban natives or citizens seeking adjustment of status if they have been present in the United States for at least 1 year after admission or parole and are admissible as immigrants. Their applications for adjustment of status may be approved even if they do not meet the ordinary requirements for adjustment of status under section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act). Since the caps on immigration do not apply to adjustments under the CAA, it is not necessary for the alien to be the beneficiary of a family-based or employment-based immigrant visa petition.
On September 30, 1996, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). IIRIRA made several comprehensive changes to the immigration laws. In particular, IIRIRA stated that arrival in the United States at a place other than an open port-of-entry is a ground of inadmissibility. However, after serious consideration of IIRIRA, the Service established that a Cuban native or citizen who arrives at a place other than an open port-of-entry may still be eligible for adjustment of status, if the Service has paroled the alien into the United States.
Cuban natives or citizens can apply for adjustment of status if they have been present in the United States for at least 1 year since admission or parole and are admissible as immigrants. The public charge ground of inadmissibility does not apply to applicants filing for benefits under the Cuban Adjustment Act. Nor does inadmissibility for having arrived at a place other than an open port of entry apply. A Cuban native or citizen who arrives at a place other than an open port-of-entry, therefore, is still eligible for adjustment of status as long as he or she has been paroled. If the applicant is inadmissible on any other ground, the applicant is not eligible for adjustment under the CAA unless the applicant is eligible for, and has obtained, a waiver of inadmissibility.
Information on Family Members
The CAA applies to the alien’s spouse and children regardless of their country of citizenship or place of birth, provided:
- The relationship continues to exist until the dependent spouse or child adjusts status.
- They are residing with the principal alien in the United States.
- They make an application for adjustment of status under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
- They are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.
- They are otherwise admissible to the United States for such permanent residence.
Note that the Immigration and Nationality Act defines “child” so that a person’s son or daughter must be unmarried and not yet 21 years old to qualify as that person’s “child.” Step-children, adopted children, and children born out of wedlock can qualify as “children” for purposes of CAA adjustment, if the claimed parent-child relationship meets the requirements specified in section 101(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- A separate Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with the fee, for each applicant.
- A copy of the applicant’s birth certificate or other birth record with translation, if available.
- An additional fee for fingerprinting, if the applicant is 14 years of age or older.
- Two photographs as described in the Form I-485 instructions.
- A completed Biographic Information Sheet (Form G-325A) if the applicant is between 14 and 79 years of age.
- A copy of the applicant’s Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) or other evidence of inspection and admission or parole into the United States.
- Medical with Vaccination Supplement.
- Evidence of one year’s physical presence.