USCIS Updates CAA Citizenship Rule; Suspends Havana Operations

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updates rules around consular certificate documentation counted as evidence of Cuban citizenship and suspends Havana operations. The changes involve policy under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) as well as the transfer of Havana field operations to the USCIS field office in Mexico City.

Where the policy change is concerned, the result affects those immigrants applying for lawful permanent resident status in the United States under CAA. In an updated policy memorandum, USCIS officials rescinded a previous rule allowing Cuban consular certification as proof of Cuban citizenship for those individuals born outside the island nation to at least one Cuban national parent. With the new guidance, immigration officials “will not consider a consular certificate as sufficient proof of Cuban citizenship,” according to a USCIS release. “This will be the case even if the consular certificate contains a statement of citizenship.”

The agency notes officers continue to accept valid Cuban passports and Cuban Civil Registry documents issued by officials in Havana as proof of Cuban citizenship.

While USCIS changes policy around documentation, the agency temporarily suspends field office operations in Havana, moving jurisdictional responsibilities to the USCIS field office in Mexico City.

The suspension of Havana operations is the result of staff reductions at the U.S. Embassy in the Cuban capital city. The reductions in U.S. Embassy staff result from mysterious sonic attacks on personnel.

With the jurisdictional change, USCIS offers individuals living in Cuba filing instructions around service and form applications. A complete breakdown of these filing instructions is available on the USCIS December 22 release.

Relations between the United States and Cuba became largely nonexistent beginning in 1961 when Communist leadership took over the Latin country and U.S. officials severed diplomatic ties. It wasn’t until more than a half-century later, with the presidency of Barack Obama, that the countries re-established diplomatic relations.

While the steps taken by USCIS officials act restrictively on Cuban immigrants, earlier in December diplomats in the two countries concluded the 31st biannual Migration Talks in Washington, D.C. The Migration Talks, which began in 1995, acts s a forum for the countries to review and coordinate efforts toward citizens’ safe, legal and orderly migration between the United States and Cuba.