TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Cuba's new travel policy removes nearly all restrictions

New migration policy

• Allows Cubans who obtain their passports to travel as long as they have an entry visa from the country they intend to visit and a ticket; eliminates the need for an exit visa and letter of invitation.

• Increases the time Cubans may stay outside the country from 11 months to 24 months without losing their status as residents of Cuba.

• Allows Cubans who have emigrated to visit the island for a period of up to 90 days — 60 more than currently allowed.

• Allows those who previously were barred from returning, such as those who left for humanitarian reasons, rafters, and athletes and professionals who left their teams or posts while on official trips abroad, to return.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Miami Herald
Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 7:24 p.m.
 

A look into the future: Summer vacations by Cuban families in Miami, Cuban doctors and athletes who left their posts or teams while on official trips abroad returning to Cuba for visits and everyday Cubans permitted to leave the island for up to two years at a time.

They are all possible, starting Monday, when Cuba's broad new migration and travel policy takes effect.

Cuba, long criticized for keeping families apart and punishing those who try to leave the island illegally, has removed nearly all restrictions on travel by its citizens, a move that could cause ripples well beyond the island of 11 million people.

Gone is the reviled “tarjeta blanca,” the white card or exit visa that Cuba used to control who could leave the island. Gone is the notarized letter of invitation from a foreign host.

Now Cubans simply need a valid passport to travel — as long as they can get a visa from the country they intend to visit and a ticket for travel. Cuban authorities say they have set up 195 locations around the country where citizens may apply for passports. Those who already hold passports will be required to recertify them under the reform.

But getting an entry visa allowing travel to another country and paying for a ticket are two big ifs.

“I was in Havana when the new policy was announced in October and people were very happy,” said Domingo Amuchastegui, a former Cuban intelligence analyst who lives in Miami. “But people thought it was going to be easy to get a visa and travel. Just getting the money for a ticket will be a monumental problem for many people.”

Presumably many Cubans will seek visas to travel to the United States — and now even minor children will be allowed to travel as long as they have the authorization of parents or legal guardians.

But it's unlikely the State Department's U.S. Interests Section in Havana will be handing out significantly more non-migrant visas than it does now. That could spur Cubans, intent on reaching the United States, to seek indirect routes through nearby countries or those that don't require entry visas for Cubans.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Islamic State got up to $45M in ransom payments
  2. Afghan forces may resume night raids
  3. Homes of Palestinians linked to attacks targeted by Israel
  4. Annual global obesity costs rise to $2T
  5. Brits blame web services in soldier’s death
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.