New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Cuban Or Not: How A Piece Of Paper May Determine Someone’s Fate In The US

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

An interesting statement was published by USCIS recently:

USCIS is no longer considering a consular certificate documenting an individual’s birth outside of Cuba to a Cuban parent as sufficient evidence of Cuban citizenship..

For a person who is not involved with Immigration issues, such a news would seem unimportant to most and maybe even bizarre. But for someone who is trying to receive a green card in the US-based on Cuban Adjustment Act, a law that allows a person with a Cuban citizenship to receive a green card in the US, such a news is very, very important.

Cuba has been a land of mystery for decades. So were its laws. Because there was no clarity as to how one may become a Cuban citizen, USCIS used case law, which in turn was based on expert opinions, to determine as to how one exactly may obtain a Cuban citizenship.

So, for years, USCIS accepted a position that a person could prove his/her Cuban citizenship by bringing a certificate from a Cuban consulate (it would not matter in which country that consulate would be) stating that a Cuban citizen was born outside of Cuba. For example, a person’s Cuban mother and a non-Cuban father fathered a child, let’s say in Brazil. A Cuban consulate in Brazil then would issue to such a child a certificate of birth of a Cuban citizen. Upon parole to the US, such a child could claim a US permanent residency (provided all other conditions were met). It was so because USCIS believed that a person could acquire Cuban citizenship by being born to one Cuban-citizen parent, anywhere in the world, and without the necessity of ever residing in Cuba.

This USCIS position was recently changed, however. Since the relationship between US and Cuba became more open, and the US got access to Cuban regulations regarding citizenship, it has been determined by the USCIS that a Consulate certificate alone is not sufficient to establish that a person is, in fact, a Cuban citizen. It is still not clear if a person has to establish actual residence in Cuba, but what is clear is that a person has to be registered as a resident in Cuba. Now, only a Cuban passport of Cuban Civil Registry issued in Havana will serve as proof of Cuban citizenship for the purposes of adjustment under Cuban Adjustment Act.

02 January 2018
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