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Latino Daily News

Monday March 11, 2013

U.S. May Increase Number of Visas Allowing Cubans to Visit Here

U.S. May Increase Number of Visas Allowing Cubans to Visit Here

Photo: Cuban Exit Visa

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The United States views “positively” the immigration reform policy that has prevailed in Cuba since January and is not ruling out increasing the number of visas authorized for Cubans in the face of a potential increase in requests, Washington’s top consular official in Havana said.

Communist Party daily Granma on Monday published an unusual interview with the consul general at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Timothy Roche, in which he mentions that the office granted about 10,000 temporary visas to Cubans between October 2011 and September 2012.

Roche did not rule out an increase in the number of visas awarded during the next fiscal year as a result of the increase in requests for them within the new context created by Havana’s new immigration policy loosening restrictions on Cubans’ travel abroad.

The reform allows Cubans to travel abroad without receiving an exit permit or complying with other procedures that had restricted such trips for decades.

In addition, it increased from 11 to 24 months the time that a Cuban may remain abroad and facilitates the temporary entry into Cuba of expatriates, including people who “illegally” left the island.

Roche explained that to travel to the United States it is still necessary to request official permission from his government.

He said that strict compliance with all the steps established to obtain a visa is still “essential.”

Roche insisted, Granma reported, that the aim of the United States is to “promote legal visits and legal, ordered and safe immigration.”

The United States and Cuba broke diplomatic relations in 1961, but in 1977 they opened offices in each other’s capital under the auspices of the Swiss embassies there.