HAVANA TIMES — The number of trips abroad by Cubans increased by 23.7 percent in 2014 over the previous year, when immigration reform that eliminated the exit permit took effect in January 2013, state media reported on Monday.
Cubans residing on the island made approximately 355,000 trips abroad, compared to 287,000 in 2013, according to a document from the National Bureau of Statistics and Information of Cuba (ONEI).
In 2012, before the immigration reform, 213,000 Cubans traveled abroad, the increase over the two years is 66.7 percent, noted the “Juventud Rebelde” newspaper.
The statistical office considered “foreign travel” to be all trips by Cuban residents except those for the exercise of paid activity in the visited country.”
The immigration reforms undertaken by the government of Raul Castro simplified procedures and eliminated the much criticized exit permit needed previously to be able to travel.
The new immigration legislation still has some limitations for the departure abroad of certain professionals who have leadership positions in companies or institutions that are considered “vital” to the country and that still need special permission to travel.
Another new feature of the immigration law is that the period of continuous stay abroad without losing their property ownership rights in Cuba was extended up to 24 months instead of the previous eleven.