Wilfredo Cancio Isla  (Café Fuerte)

Cubans lining up in Havana to have their travel documents processed.
Cubans lining up in Havana to have their travel documents processed.

HAVANA TIMES — Some 29,700 visas for family visits, educational, cultural or business-related trips have been issued to Cubans this year. The figure is close to setting a record in the issuing of temporary permits for travel to the United States this fiscal year.

According to statistics made available to CafeFuerte by the US Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, the visas for family visits (B1 and B2) issued between October of 2013 and this past June 30th have experienced a 25% increase in comparison to the same period last year. The majority of these are 5-year, multiple-entry visas, a type of travel visa that USINT began to issue to Cubans in August of 2013.

Everything indicates that, by the end of the last quarter of 2014 (September 30), the issuing of visas to Cuban visitors to the US will have reached a record figure.

Complying with the Migratory Accords

The USINT Consular Section also stamped more than 17,000 immigrant visas for Cuban citizens this year, in compliance with the migratory accords reached by Havana and Washington in 1994 and 1995. At this pace, the United States will easily meet its commitment of issuing 20,000 immigrant visas a year, as agreed by the two parties following the balseros (“raft-people”) crisis twenty years ago.

Washington has indeed met its commitment, issuing at least 20,000 visas to Cuban immigrants every year, in addition to the visas issued to the winners of the lottery under the US State Department’s Diversity Program, which issued 1,480 such visas to Cuban applicants following its latest draw (DV-2015). Cuba and Venezuela (1,556) where the two Latin American countries that secured the largest number of US residencies through the lottery draw this past May.

The number of visas issued to Cubans under the two categories – visitors and immigrants – adds up to 46,700 this year, an unprecedented increase in consular activity in Havana. During 2013, USINT issued 56,981 travel documents. Of these, 32,254 were visitor visas and 24,727 were immigrant visas.

The more flexible travel regulations and increase in the issuing of visitor visas to Cubans is the ostensible result of the policies that have been implemented by the Obama administration since 2009. The USINT headquarters in Havana has had to expand its facilities to be able to receive and process the avalanche of requests that followed the implementation of Cuba’s migratory reforms, which, last year, eliminated the previously required travel permit and other restrictions that applied to Cuban nationals wishing to travel abroad.

Fleeing the Island

The new migratory regulations applied under Raul Castro’s government allow travelers to remain abroad for 24 months without losing any of their rights as Cuban citizens, something which allows those who visit the United States to avail themselves of the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) and secure legal residency in the country before returning to the island.

Not even these new options for legal immigration, however, have managed to stop Cubans seeking to illegally flee the island and arrive in the United States by sea or by crossing the Mexican or Canadian borders.

As of August this year, 1,835 Cubans had been intercepted in the Strait of Florida by the US Coast Guard Service and repatriated to Cuba. Over 200 managed to reach US soil and invoke the CAA “dry foot” policy this year.

More than 20,000 Cubans have entered the United States through bordering countries. A total of 14,000 through the Mexican border, according to data from the Customs and Porden Protection (CBP) Department.

NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS FOR FAMILY VISITS, ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES AND BUSINESS-RELATED TRIPS (2004-2014)

2004 – 10,508
2005 – 11,632
2006 – 7,330
2007 – 10,614
2008 – 11,060
2009 – 17,690
2010 – 20,768
2011 – 16,654
2012 – 15,983
2013 – 32,254
2014 – 29,700 (October 2013-June 2014)

Source: US Interests Section


13 thoughts on “More Cubans Are Visiting the USA

  • Read the article again, 24,727 higher than for most countries in Latin America……

  • I guess that is why the life expectancy of Cubans is higher than in most of Latin America? I am sure your neurosurgeon friend is healthy. So what if he is an MD everyone deserves a better life……

  • The lack of basic freedom is a very powerful motivation. It can suffocate the life out of people. You seem to be genuinely not understand how oppression can drive humans to do the unthinkable. People like you saw the “colored slave” and asked why should they run away? They had food, clothing and a roof over their head. What more do they want?” Not all prisons need to have iron bars and locked doors. By the way, it was once thought that automobiles were not necessary to live well. We thought the same about washers and dryers and then microwave ovens. Now it’s cell phones and WiFi. People like you who can enjoy these little things that make everyday life easier can also choose not to enjoy them. But to someone like my best friend in Cuba who is a neurosurgeon who takes the bus for an hour and a half from Cotorro to Calixto Garcia Hospital every day, says that a car would add years to his life. WiFi would probably help to save a patient’s life if he could make calls to the hospital from the bus ride. Your developed world arrogance reeks of self-righteousness when you talk about someone being materialistic because I see wifi as a freedom. Maybe Peru would be empty save a few if there were a PAA like the CAA. One thing is for sure, it would not be Peruvian doctors or engineers or university professors leaving the way these professionals want to leave Cuba. That is the difference.between Cuba and the rest of the world.

  • Most Cubans does not get visa or immigrant status, just a few get it….. it seems you know all of them……… but majority of Cubans have no hope to get a visa or immigrant status that allow them to escape castro regime…… people like you will never believe the powerful reasons Cubans have to attempt such a perilous way to escape ….. otherwise you would not be wondering why they do it.

  • What I said I said it clearly, I have friends who have come with a visitor visa and another with an immigrant visa, got on a plane and did not face the same dangers some Cubans place themselves in. Are Cuban being executed? Are Cuban being killed like in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala? Are Cuban children dying of hunger? There is no excuse to risk your life to get “Wifi”? How materialistic? You can do what thousands have done…..and yest the Cuban adjustment act has to be eliminated, these are not political refugees they are economic refugees. If there was a Peru Adjustment Act Peru would b empty, just the elite would remain keeping the lights on.

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