Cuban immigration was in the news again yesterday. As condo residents of the Mar Azul in Key Biscayne looked on, a makeshift boat carrying nine Cuban rafters landed in front of the condo and scrambled ashore.

The rafters were taken into a room inside the Mar Azul to await the arrival of paramedics and the Border Patrol, who were then to take custody and transport the rafters to the Border Patrol’s Dania Beach station for processing.

The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA)

Most Miami immigration attorneys are intimately familiar with the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA). The CAA is also colloquially known as the “wet-foot/dry-foot policy.”  Under the U. S.’s current dry-foot/wet-foot policy, Cuban migrants reaching U.S. soil generally are detained briefly by the Border Patrol, then released. They can apply for permanent residence after more than a year in the country. Cuban migrants interdicted at sea generally are returned to the island.

What is the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA)?

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 get a green card (permanent residence). The CAA gives the Attorney General the discretion to grant permanent residence to Cuban natives or citizens applying for a green card if:

  • They have been present in the United States for at least 1 year
  • They have been admitted or paroled
  • They are admissible as immigrants

Their applications for a green card (permanent residence) may be approved even if they do not meet the ordinary requirements under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Since the caps on immigration do not apply to adjustments under the CAA, it is not necessary for the individual to be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition. Additionally, a Cuban native or citizen who arrives at a place other than an open port-of-entry may still be eligible for a green card if USCIS has paroled the individual into the United States.

Application for the CAA

To obtain a green card (permanent residence) under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Miami immigration lawyers typically  file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Who is Eligible?

Cuban natives or citizens can apply for a green card while in the United States if they have been present in the United States for at least 1 year, have been admitted or paroled and are admissible as immigrants.The following inadmissibility grounds do not apply to individuals filing for benefits under the CAA:

  • Public charge
  • Arriving at a place other than an open port of entry provided USCIS paroled the individual into the United States

If the individual is inadmissible on any other ground(s), he or she is not eligible to apply for a green card under the CAA unless he or she has obtained a waiver of inadmissibility.

Applying Under the CAA as an Individual, or as a Family Member

The spouse and child(ren) of an individual applying for a green card under the CAA may also apply for benefits under the CAA regardless of their country of citizenship or place of birth, if:

  • The relationship continues to exist until the dependent spouse or child receives a green card
  • They are residing with the individual applying for a green card under the CAA in the United States
  • They apply for a green card 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: A child is defined as being unmarried and not having reached the age of 21 years old.  Step-children, adopted children, and children born out of wedlock may qualify as a child for purposes of CAA adjustment if the claimed parent-child relationship meets the requirements specified in Section 101(b)(1) of the INA.

What other documentation needs to be included with my application?

In most cases, your Miami immigration lawyer will include the following items in your application, including but not limited to:

  • Two passport-style photos
  • Copy of birth certificate (or other birth record with translation, if available)
  • Applicable fees
  • Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
  • Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • Arrival/ Departure Record (or other evidence of inspection and admission or parole into the United States)
  • Evidence of 1 year’s physical presence in the United States

When Can I File?

In most circumstances, your Miami immigration attorney can help you file under the Cuban Adjustment Act one year and 1 day after you have been paroled or admitted to the United States.

For more information about the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. .

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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