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.


8 thoughts on “Cuba Prepares for Surge in Passports

  • Thanks, but maybe I should have made it clearer that my questions pertained to the situation after January 14.

    But: I have recently heard that Cuban passports issued earlier than 2013 now needs to be “updated”. Perhaps is the result of this “update” some kind of marker in the passport, indicating if the holder is subject to travel restrictions or not.

  • Professionals considered vital to national interests will know in advance that they must seek special approvals in order to leave the country for non-government purposes. The real question is not regarding this group of Cubans, but rather that group of Cubans who the government would consider a threat to national interests. Dissidents like Yoani Sanchez likely will not be advised in advance that they have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of getting a new passport. Time will tell…..

  • They do not know in advance if they will be allowed to travel. They may travel abroad if they receive an invitation from a foreigner or foreign organization who will sponsor them. Then the Cuban must apply for permission to travel, filling out forms explaining where and what they will be doing and who they will be staying with. If their application is approved, they are issued a Carta Blanca or exit visa. Only then would they go ahead and buy a plane ticket. There are expensive fees at every step of the way. There are many reasons why a Cuban might be refused permission.

    The gov’t proposes to change this procedure soon to make it easier to leave on travel.

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