Green Card for a Cuban Native or Citizen

The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (CAA) allows Cuban natives or citizens living in the United States who meet certain eligibility requirements to apply to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card).

This page provides specific information for Cuban natives and citizens in the United States who want to apply for lawful permanent resident status based on the CAA. This is called “adjustment of status.” You should also read the Instructions for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (PDF, 545 KB) before you apply.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

In order to be eligible for a Green Card under the CAA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • You are a native or citizen of Cuba;
  • You were inspected and admitted or paroled after January 1, 1959;
  • You have been physically present in the United States for at least one year at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief; and
  • You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.

Cuban Citizenship or Native Requirement

If you are a principal applicant, you must submit evidence of Cuban citizenship or of being a Cuban native.

The following are examples of acceptable documents to prove your Cuban citizenship:

  • A valid Cuban passport; or
  • A Cuban Civil Registry document issued in Havana.

You may be able to meet the Cuban citizen or native requirement if:

  • You were born in Cuba (including the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), even if you are not a citizen of Cuba;
  • You were born outside Cuba but became a naturalized citizen of Cuba, and you are still a citizen of Cuba; or
  • You were born outside Cuba but acquired Cuban citizenship under Cuban law, and you are still a citizen of Cuba.

Inspected and Admitted or Paroled After January 1, 1959

To be eligible for CAA adjustment, you must be present in the United States after being inspected and admitted or paroled by an immigration officer after January 1, 1959. If you are present in the United States without inspection, you are not eligible for CAA adjustment unless you first turn yourself in to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DHS paroles you under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 212(d)(5)(A), pending a final determination of your admissibility. If DHS paroles you, and you have already been physically present in the United States for at least one year at the time DHS paroles you, then you may apply for adjustment of status immediately after being paroled. The law does not require that your one-year period of physical presence follow the parole.

Bars to Adjustment

If you are or were a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor and are subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement, you may not apply to adjust status unless you have complied with the foreign residence requirement, have been granted a waiver, or have received a Department of State recommendation for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement. See the Instructions for Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, for more information.

Grounds of Inadmissibility

To qualify for a Green Card, you must be admissible to the United States. Reasons why you may be inadmissible are listed in INA 212(a) and are called grounds of inadmissibility.

In general, USCIS can only approve your Green Card application if none of the relevant grounds of inadmissibility apply to you. If you are applying for a Green Card based on the CAA, all of the grounds of inadmissibility apply to you except for:

If you are inadmissible, the law may allow you to apply for a waiver or other form of relief of certain grounds of inadmissibility that can overcome the inadmissibility. You may apply for a waiver or other form of relief by using Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal.  If your waiver or request for another form of relief is granted, USCIS may approve your application for a Green Card if you are otherwise eligible.

Whether a waiver or other form of relief is available depends on the specific inadmissibility ground(s) that applies to you and the category you are adjusting under. Eligibility requirements for waivers and other forms of relief vary. For information on the grounds of inadmissibility and waivers, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 8, Admissibility, and Volume 9, Waivers.

How to Apply

If you are currently in the United States, you have been physically present in the United States for at least one year, and you meet certain other requirements, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to apply for a Green Card.

What to Submit (Principal Applicant)

You should submit the following documentation and evidence to apply for a Green Card based on the Cuban Adjustment Act:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Evidence of being a Cuban native or of your Cuban  citizenship (see Cuban Citizenship or Native Requirement in the Eligibility for Adjustment of Status section above);
  • Evidence that you have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year prior to the date you are filing Form I-485 (see the Eligibility for Adjustment of Status section above);
  • Copy of your passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);
  • Copy of your passport page with your admission  or parole stamp (issued by a U.S. immigration officer) (if applicable);
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable) 

Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic Form I-94 upon your arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form, unless you are exempt or eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

For more information on applying for a Green Card, see the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB). Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

Family Members

Eligibility Criteria for Family Members

You are eligible to apply for a Green Card as a family member based on the CAA if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are not a Cuban native or citizen but are currently the spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a native or citizen of Cuba who meets the requirements of the CAA;

Note: You may apply under the CAA regardless of how long your relationship has existed. Whether your relationship began before or after your Cuban spouse or parent adjusted to lawful permanent resident status does not matter.

  • You properly file your Form I-485:
    • Together with your Cuban spouse or parent’s Form I-485 (and your spouse or parent’s Form I-485 is ultimately approved);
    • While your Cuban spouse or parent’s Form I-485 is still pending with USCIS (and your spouse’s or parent’s Form I-485 is ultimately approved); or
    • After USCIS approves your Cuban spouse or parent’s Form I-485, as long as your spouse or parent is still a lawful permanent resident.

Note:  You may apply based on CAA as long as your Cuban spouse or parent meets the requirements of the CAA. It does not matter if your Cuban spouse or parent uses a different Green Card eligibility category to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident.

  • You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959;
  • You have been physically present in the United States for at least one year at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You reside with your Cuban spouse or parent who meets the requirements of the CAA;
  • You are admissible to the United States for or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief; and
  • You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.

What to Submit (for Family Members)

If you are not a Cuban native or citizen but are currently the spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen who meets the requirements of the CAA, you should submit the following evidence to apply for a Green Card based on the CAA:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • Copy of documentation showing your relationship to your Cuban spouse or parent, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or adoption decree;
  • Copy of documentation showing that your spouse or parent is a Cuban citizen or native;
  • Copy of the Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice, for your Cuban spouse or parent’s   Form I‑485 or a copy of your Cuban spouse or parent’s Green Card (if not filing together with the principal applicant’s Form I-485);
  • Evidence that you reside with your Cuban spouse or parent who meets the requirements of the CAA;
  • Evidence you have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year;
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Copy of your passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);
  • Copy of your passport page with admission or parole stamp (issued by a U.S. immigration officer) (if applicable);
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable) 

Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic Form I-94 upon your arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form, unless you are exempt or eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

Employment Authorization and Advance Parole Documents

Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, you may apply for employment authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

If you need to leave the United States temporarily while your Form I-485 is pending, please see the Instructions for Application for Travel Document for more information. Generally, if you have a pending Form I-485 and you leave the United States without an advance parole document, you will have abandoned your application.

For further information, see our Employment Authorization and Travel Documents pages.

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