Relaxed Cuban exit visa rules ineffective for US travel

Relaxed Cuban exit visa rules ineffective for US travel

Relaxed Cuban exit visa rules ineffective for US travel

In spite of Cuba’s recent decision to allow its citizens easier pathways to travel overseas, it’s still impossible for Cubans to just book a flight to the USA and go.

Potential migrants and even tourists must still get permission from the US government before they can enter the country legally. At the present time, there’s a multi-year queue for exit visas, meaning the average Cuban will be forced to shelve his plans for a considerable while.

Jose Azel, a recognised expert in Cuban immigration matters from Miami University’s Institute of Cuban and American Studies, considers Cuba’s relaxing of the rules may end as much ado about nothing. Spokeswoman for the US State Department, Victoria Nuland, told AP that the US welcomes Cuba’s efforts to allow its citizens free passage, but remains committed to agreements between the two countries supporting orderly, legal migration.

According to Azel, Cuba’s announcement is not likely to result in a monumental exodus of Cuban citizens heading for the US. He said that the Mariel boatlift in 1980, which resulted in 125,000 Cubans making it to safe haven in Florida, is very unlikely to be repeated, adding that most Latin American countries require entry visas for Cuban citizens.

Nuland said the US visa requirements for applicants from Cuba remain the same, including the controversial 1995 ‘wet-foot/dry-foot’ regulations which allow entry to those arriving by boat providing they set foot on the shore. Those whose boats are stopped before occupants reach dry land are turned back.

Since 1995, thousands of Cubans who risked the dangerous trip across the Straits of Florida have been granted entry, with the majority settling and eventually applying for citizenship. Cubans arriving by land from Mexico and heading on to Texas are allowed to stay provided they pass background checks and medical screening.

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