U.S. Refugee Admissions Program CubaAbogados en Cuba - The President of the United States each year recommends the size and composition of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  After seeking the advice of various governmental agencies and the consent of Congress, the President signs a Determination that recommends regional refugee admissions ceilings, processing priorities, and countries designated for in-country processing.

Eligibility criteria for Cuban Nationals - To be eligible for refugee status in the U.S. Refugee Admissions program, a Cuban national must demonstrate that he/she belongs to at least one of the following groups:

  • * Members of persecuted religious minorities.
  • * Human rights activists.
  • * Former political prisoners.
  • * Forced-labor conscripts (1965-1968).
  • * Persons deprived of their professional credentials or subjected to other disproportionately harsh or discriminatory treatment resulting from their perceived or actual political or religious beliefs or activities.
  •     * Persons who have experienced or fear harm because of their relationship –-family or social -- to someone who falls under one of the preceding categories.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Q: What is a refugee?
A: A refugee is a person who is determined to be unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of their country of origin because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.         
Q: What is the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program?
A: The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program allows refugees from all parts of the world who meet the criteria outlined in the annual Presidential Determination to be resettled in the United States.  The program in Cuba is administered by the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), in conjunction with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Organization for Migration.
Q: How do I claim refugee status with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program?
A: To apply for refugee status with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a person must complete a Preliminary Questionnaire and deliver it to the Havana Refugee Office in person, via mail, or via fax.  The written request can be placed in a drop-box located at the gate of the Refugee Office, faxed to (537) 834-4515, or mailed to:

Q: As a refugee, will I be sent to the U.S?
A: If you are approved by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, you will be resettled in the United States.
Q: If I am resettled in the U.S., for how long will I receive financial support?   Will I be provided a house, car and job?
A: You will receive housing and other relocation assistance for up to 90 days after your arrival in the United States. Different states offer different benefits. You may be eligible for other refugee assistance programs also. You are expected to become a self-sufficient member of society as soon after your arrival as possible.
Q: When can I start to work in the United States?
A: You will be expected to find employment as soon after arrival as possible.
Q: Can I visit family members in Cuba while I am a refugee in the U.S.?
A: Once you obtain Permanent Legal Resident status you may travel to Cuba, though subject to the same travel restrictions as other Cubans who wish to visit family in Cuba.  You are strongly encouraged to ask for the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney or non-governmental organization if you decide to return to Cuba.
Q:What happens if I change my marital status or have a newborn child during the process?
A: You should contact the Refugee Office as soon as your marital status has changed or you have a newborn child.  A change of marital status could affect your eligibility and the eligibility of dependent family members to participate in the program; a newborn child would normally be added as a member of your family and would not affect your eligibility.
Q: I am a sole surviving son and the sole source of support for my mother. Can she be included in my case?

A: Each case consists of an applicant and his or her dependent spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.  Both you and your mother should submit applications together.
Q: USCIS approved my case but I have not received my exit permit from the Cuban Immigration. What do I do?
A: Please inform the Refugee Unit and wait until you receive permission from Cuban Immigration to leave the country.  The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program cannot assist you in obtaining an exit permit.
Q: Where will I live in the United States?  Do I have a choice?
A: The Refugee Admissions Program attempts to place refugees in cities where family members already live.  Also, refugees will be placed in cities where voluntary organizations have programs to assist newly arriving refugees.
Q: How long does it take to become a Legal Permanent Resident (“green card” holder) and U.S. citizen?
A: A refugee can apply for Legal Permanent Resident status one year after admission to the United States.  After being a Legal Perma­nent Resident for five years, a refugee can apply to become a U.S. citizen.

Q: Can I travel to the United States before my approved spouse and/or children?
A: If the principal applicant of a case decides for any reason to travel before his or her approved family members, they must also travel to the United States within four months of his or her arrival.