One-hundred and ninety-fine offices have been set up to manage passport application following immigration reform
HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities have made 195 offices operational for the processing of passports just ahead of immigration reform the taking effect in the next seven days, reported DPA news on Monday.
The long-awaited relaxation of rules related to foreign travel, which were announced by President Raul Castro in mid-October, eliminate the previously required exit permit (la carta blanca), as well as the need to provide a letter of invitation from the host country before being able to leave the island.
The measure will take effect on January 14, after which time Cuban passports will be processed without submitting those other documents.
The easing of travel has generated great expectations among the public. Virtually every Cuban has a relative abroad, especially in the United States, where the vast majority of the two million Cuban immigrants live.
Applications for passports can be made now at the Identity Card and Population Registry offices as well as at the Immigration offices, cited the Prensa Latina news agency.
“The conditions have been created in preparation of the new rules taking effect,” notes the PL article.
It is expected that immigration reform will make foreign travel a little easier for Cubans living on the island, in addition to visits to Cuba by exiles that fled the island for political and economic reasons.
Cubans currently living temporarily abroad may also extend their stays abroad from 11 to 24 months without losing their residency status in Cuba.
At the same time, it’s estimated that those people who are considered political dissidents will continue to face travel restrictions in leaving the island.
Likewise, highly skilled professionals such as doctors may have difficulty traveling abroad. Raul Castro’s government has already said it will take measures to prevent the “brain drain” that has impacted almost all nations of the Third World.