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Cuba Doesn’t Seem to Care Anymore If You Left In a Raft, You Are Now Welcome Back

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Remember the days when Cuba didn’t want any one of its citizens back if they left in the dark of night on a one-way raft trip to the U.S.? Or the days when Cuba made it challenging for U.S. naturalized citizens, born in Cuba to visit their motherland.

That was then and now it’s: Welcome Home Everyone!!

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez announced measures, this weekend, easing travel to the island nation effective January 1, 2018, in an effort to entice Cuba’s native born back.

The challenge for Cuban Americans living in the U.S. is that Cuba has never recognized their U.S. citizenship and views these individuals as Cuban citizens only. And as a Cuban citizen travel to-and-from Cuba has always been very difficult with fears of a mass exodus or asylum seeking from those still living on the island.

Cuban and Cuban Americans, depending on when you left Cuba, are required either to hold a Cuban passport or have a HE-11 Visa to visit. These individuals may hold an American passport as naturalized citizens but those passports are not readily recognized in Cuba.

Now Cubans living outside of Cuba will no longer need a habilitación stamp on their Cuban passports before traveling to the island. A habilitación stamp is an entry permit stamped on a Cuban passport. And though these individuals are no longer required to get a stamp they will still have to have a Cuban passport and pay an annual fee to maintain the passport.

In addition, the Foreign Minister announced that children born to Cuban parents outside of Cuba will be allowed to apply for citizenship. And the most notable change is the Welcome Back mat for those that left Cuba through illegal means.

This is great news for the nearly 2 million Cuban and Cuban Americans living here. In 2016, according to the Miami Herald, 428,000 Cuban Americans traveled to Cuba. And this year over 300,000 have visited thus far and those numbers are expected to rise when the new changes going in effect next year.

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