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State Department Eliminates 5-Year Tourist Visa for Cubans

March 18, 2019 by Dan McCue
The Cuban embassy on July 30, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

The U.S. State Department on Friday announced it is eliminating a popular five-year tourist visa for Cubans, needed to achieve “reciprocity” between the visa rules of the U.S. and Cuba.

Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, immediately slammed the move, saying via Twitter the decision by the Trump administration is “an additional obstacle” for the many Cuban citizens who have relatives living in the United States.

The change in policy, which was announced through a Spanish-language Facebook post, is scheduled to take effect on Monday.

In the video, Mara Tekach, the charge d’affaires  at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, explains that under the new policy, the U.S. is reducing the duration of B2 tourist visas issued to Cuban nationals from five years to three months, and reducing their use from multiple entries to single entry.

Cuba currently grants U.S. tourists single-entry visas valid for up to two months with a possible 30-day extension.

But Rodriguez rejected the State Department’s claim that the changes were a result of a reciprocity issue, insisting that “Cuba offers all means so that U.S. citizens, from any country, including the U.S., can obtain a visa.”

The change in U.S. policy is considered a blow both to Cubans who have family members in the states and entrepreneurs who rely on their ability to enter the United States to buy goods for their businesses.

Now, in order  to make the trip on anything like the basis they had in the past, they’ll have to take more costly and time-consuming journeys through other countries, like Mexico or Canada.

The U.S. withdrew most of its non-essential diplomatic staff from Havana in September 2017, citing health and security concerns after several staff members became ill under mysterious circumstances. Since then the embassy has stopped issuing visas of almost any type in Cuba.

 

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