In a departure from long-standing policy on Cuban migrants, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced on January 12, 2017 that it was rescinding the government’s policy on Cuban refugees. Specifically, DHS released a memo describing a significant shift in U.S. policy pertaining to Cuban nationals seeking refuge in the U.S. As part of the regularization of relations that has taken place under the Obama Administrative, DHS has abolished several policies that had been uniquely available to Cuban nationals.
- First, the outdated “wet foot/dry foot” policy, which stated that any Cuban national who arrived on U.S. soil – the dry-footed – could apply for parole and lawful permanent residence in the U.S. while Cuban nationals picked on water – the wet-footed – would be returned to Cuba, has been eliminated.
- Second, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that allowed medical professionals from Cuba residing in third countries – not Cuba or the U.S. – to apply for parole, has also been eliminated.
- Third, as of the date of the announcement, Cuban nationals found at or near the U.S. border will no longer be exempt from expedited removal proceedings.
The policy changes are part of the “opening-up of Cuba” that has been part of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy objectives. For more information about the DHS Memo on Changes to Parole and Expedited Removal Policies Affecting Cuban Nationals, click here. For additional information about how this memo may impact you and your family members or employees, contact us.