Cuban/Haitian Entrant FAQs

Cuban/Haitian Entrant Definition: If a Cuban or Haitian client meets more than one of the criteria for a Cuban/Haitian entrant, what should be considered their basis of eligibility?

Applicants must show only that they hold a status that is eligible. If an individual demonstrates that s/he meets any of the criteria for Cuban/Haitian entrant, that is, parolee, asylum applicant, or person in removal proceedings, that is the basis of their eligibility for refugee program services. If an applicant has been paroled in addition to another status, however, the parole should generally be documented as well since ORR has said that the expiration of parole does not affect the applicant’s eligibility for services. See also the next FAQ regarding eligibility dates.

Cuban/Haitian Date of Eligibility - First Qualifying Status: What date of eligibility should be used for Cuban or Haitian nationals who meet more than one part of the definition of a Cuban-Haitian entrant?

Many Cuban or Haitian nationals in the state may fulfill more than one part of the definition of a Cuban-Haitian entrant. An individual may, for instance, be granted parole and have a pending application for asylum. In that circumstance, the date on which the individual first meets the definition of entrant is the effective date of “entry” or eligibility for refugee program services.

Cuban/Haitian Asylee Eligibility: Will a Cuban or Haitian asylum applicant who is granted asylum be able to access an additional eight months of refugee cash and medical assistance and an additional five years of social services beginning on the date that he or she is granted asylum?

No, a Cuban or Haitian asylum applicant eligible for refugee assistance and services under ORR regulations concerning Cuban and Haitian entrants will not be able to access additional cash and medical assistance or priority services by beginning a second eligibility period on the date asylum is granted. For more information about benefits for Cuban and Haitian entrants, please see 45 CFR, Part 401.

Cuban/Haitian Entrant Eligibility Date: Since Cuban or Haitian nationals who are admitted to the United States as visitors or students, for instance, are not considered Cuban-Haitian entrants, what date would be used for their eligibility if they later applied for asylum or were put into removal proceedings?

In circumstances where the status of a Cuban or Haitian national changes after they enter the United States so that they subsequently meet the definition of a Cuban-Haitian entrant, the eligibility date for refugee program purposes would be the date the individual was first issued DHS documentation making them an “entrant.” An example of this would be if DHS issued a notice of removal proceedings, such as an I-862 (Notice to Appear), to someone who overstayed their visa. Another example would be the date on which a Cuban or Haitian national already in the United States first filed an application with the USCIS or the Immigration Court requesting asylum.

Effect of Detention on Eligibility Date: If a Cuban or Haitian national is detained by the DHS upon entering the United States and not released for a long period of time, will they still be able to qualify for refugee program cash and medical benefits?

In many cases, the actual date of entry and the date DHS releases the entrant from detention with documentation may be the same. If the individual is detained for a significant period, however, the date the DHS first issues the individual documentation establishing status as a Cuban-Haitian entrant would be the eligibility date, even if not the actual date of entering the United States. DHS may issue a Form I-862 (Notice to Appear), Form I-220A (Order of Release on Recognizance), or other documentation showing that the Cuban or Haitian national is in removal proceedings and therefore has status as a Cuban-Haitian entrant.

Denial of Asylum Application: How long are Cuban or Haitian clients who are denied asylum eligible for benefits?

A Cuban or Haitian client who has been eligible for refugee services while in the asylum or removal process may lose that eligibility if an immigration judge denies the asylum application and issues a final, non-appealable, and legally enforceable order of removal. Service providers must ensure that they periodically check the current status of clients in asylum or removal proceedings to verify continued eligibility. (Note that this step is not required if the entrant has ever been paroled.) Ask the client for more recent documentation and call the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) case status line (1-800-898-7180). If the client’s status or eligibility is unclear or the client has received some other form of relief, consult with the Office of Refugee Services before terminating services. Be prepared to give information on the name, date of birth, nationality, alien number, as well as any other details available, to assist in inquiries with DHS.

Final Order of Removal (Deportation or Exclusion): When does a final order of removal end the eligibility of a Cuban/Haitian client?

Cuban/Haitian entrants who have never been paroled and are issued a final, non-appealable, and legally enforceable order of removal by an immigration judge are no longer eligible for refugee program services. Because of the complex legal issues related to orders of removal and the hearing and appeal process, providers should consult with the Office of Refugee Services and with the Office of Refugee Resettlement regarding clients who appear to meet these conditions. Be prepared to give information on the name, date of birth, nationality, alien number, as well as any other details available, to assist in inquiries with DHS.

Cubans or Haitians with “V” Visas: Is a Cuban who holds a “V” visa under the Life Act eligible for refugee program services?

No, the “V” visa is a non-immigrant visa for relatives waiting for immigrant visas. Like other Cubans in non-immigrant statuses such as visitor or student, Cubans with a “V” visa are not eligible for refugee program services unless they can also show evidence that the meet the definition of a Cuban/Haitian entrant, that is, they were paroled by DHS, applied for asylum, or were placed into removal proceedings.

HRIFA Spouse and Child: Is a Haitian spouse or child eligible for refugee services if they joined a Haitian asylum applicant or parolee and adjusted under the Haitian Refugee Immigration and Fairness Act (HRIFA)?

As with all permanent residents, a Haitian spouse or child who became a permanent resident under HRIFA must show that he or she held a status previously eligible for refugee program services. Spouses and children of a Cuban/Haitian entrant do not receive, or "derive," eligibility from their relative. The Haitian spouse and child must show that they themselves meet or previously met the definition of a Cuban/Haitian entrant, that is, were paroled or applied for asylum or put into removal proceedings. (Note that even if not eligible for refugee program services, these family members may be eligible for mainstream benefits open to all immigrants.)