Cuba Extends Tourist Visas from 30 to 90 Days
The government hopes to increase revenue from longer term visitors
The Government is also preparing a citizenship law that takes into account the right to have several nationalities
HAVANA TIMES – Beginning November 1, Cuba will grant tourist visas for 90 days, instead of the 30 days in effect before. The announcement was made this Sunday on Twitter by the Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos García Granda, and now is on official pages.
In his tweet, García Granda also said that the visa will be “extendable only once for the same period,” that is, that tourists will be able to stay in Cuba for a total of 180 days.
Until now, the tourist visa, which is mandatory, allowed a maximum duration of 30 days, which could be extended for one more month, provided that the change was made one week before the visa’s expiration at the nearest Immigration and Aliens Office, including the postponement of the return flight and the payment for accommodation.
The new measure is made public just over a week after the closure of the Medical Tourism and Welfare Fair in Havana, one of whose main claims was the relaunch of the Island as a health destination. Allowing travelers to stay in the country for up to six months would favor this goal.
Just a few days ago, the Cuban Government acknowledged that it will be impossible to meet the tourism goal it had planned. Compared to the two and a half million travelers it had insisted that the Island would receive during 2022, the year will close with 1,710,000 travelers, according to the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil Fernández.
It was a featured article, reflecting the tourism data of the first nine months of the year. If by September 1,074,814 international visitors arrived on the Island, between October and December, the remaining 1.4 million would have to arrive to reach the forecast, not taking into account that the high season begins in November. It would have been necessary to triple each of the three months the best data of the year, the 152,480 travelers in July.
Also, the director of Consular Affairs and Attention to Cubans Living Abroad of the Foreign Ministry of Cuba, Ernesto Soberón, announced on Sunday that the Government is preparing a “citizenship law” that “works to promote relations with emigrants.”
The official recalled, according to official media, that the 2019 Constitution allows more nationalities apart from the Cuban one but said that this “needs legislation.”
Soberón, who held a meeting with Cubans living in Uruguay, recognized that “the current migratory flow has demographic impacts in a nation with low birth rates.”
In addition, he announced that “for the next legislature of the Parliament, draft laws on passports and foreigners must also be approved.” The official assures that other measures are “under study” on issues of interest to emigrants, including the streamlining of procedures and their participation in socioeconomic development, since the number of Cubans living abroad interested in investing in their country is growing.”
The minister did not provide any data to confirm this alleged desire in the current circumstances of deep crisis and in the absence of solid legal guarantees in favor of private investment.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba
3 thoughts on “Cuba Extends Tourist Visas from 30 to 90 Days”
I certainly echo Moses’ enthusiasm with regard to the extension of the 30 day visa to 90 days. As a Canadian, I too, many times, have had to renew my visa after a 30 day stay. In Cuba a visa change can be a time consuming arduous, and a costly process.
On board a plane flying from Canada to any airport in Cuba, passengers are issued a “tourist visa” for stays in resorts, hotels, and home stays (casas particular). If a passenger has immediate family in Cuba and intends to reside with the family that tourist visa must be converted immediately to a family visa at the nearest Cuba immigration office. Before this current change, the visa was good for only 30 days.
Similarly, a Canadian passenger who has a girlfriend/boyfriend in Cuba and intends to live together in a Cuban residence the passenger must upon arrival go to a casa particular for the first night and then the next day go to the immigration office to convert the tourist visa to a family visa. Again, before the current change that visa was good for only 30 days.
Failure to follow this process, for example, waiting a week after touching down in Cuba to get the visa changed could result in extensive financial penalties to both parties up to and possibly including the loss of the house belonging to the Cuban hosting a “foreigner” in the house.
It is not an automatic process that a Canadian’s tourist visa will be switched to a family visa so that a Canadian can live with his Cuban girlfriend/boyfriend, fait accompli. For example, let’s say a 60 year old Canadian man comes down to Cuba and has an 18 year old girlfriend that he met at a dance and wants to continue the relationship at her house for the remaining of his Cuban vacation, how will both parties fair at the immigration office? Forget it. Not going to happen. Those types of unions are not going to convert tourist visas to family visa. If that was the case, most Cuban hotels, resorts would be empty and that is exactly what the Cuban government does not want.
On the other hand, if that 60 year old man regularly comes down to Cuba and has a 40 year old Cuban girlfriend (not married) and both have been going to the immigration office for, say, the last 10 years (in other words, there is a digital relationship history) successfully converting his tourist visa to family visa, will be granted. Questions will still be asked but the onus is on the Cubans to deny the request which most often than not, they will grant approval. But of course, like all Cuban bureaucratic work, it will be an excruciating waiting time to see an immigration officer.
Moses, asked: “Canadians, I believe have long enjoyed 6 month visas. Does this change affect Canadians?” Yes, Canadians do enjoy 6 month visas. An agreement made between Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Fidel Castro many years ago is still valid. Prior to this Cuban administrative change, Canadians could stay for the 180 days so I see no reason why the Cuban government would change it. I have known many Canadians who spend the bitterly cold Canadian winters in warm, sunny, Cuba for 180 days despite its continuous arduous hardships.
I suggest they concentrate on making life more tolerable for foreigners first. Things like electricity, food, transportation, communications are more important to me than eliminating that trip to Immigration.
Having gone through the process of extending my 30-day visa for an additional 30 days many, many times, this change is fantastic. Canadians, I believe have long enjoyed 6 month visas. Does this change affect Canadians?
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