Monday, December 5, 2022

US embassy again issuing immigrant visas in Havana, but at a trickle

HAVANA : The US embassy in Havana started issuing a trickle of immigrant visas to Cubans this week, making good on an earlier promise to restart visa processing on the island after a four-year hiatus.

The State Division underneath former US president Donald Trump sharply scaled again embassy workers in 2017 following a spate of “anomalous well being incidents” that got here to be often called “Havana syndrome”.

Cubans searching for to immigrate have been as an alternative directed to use for visas in particular person at the US embassies first in Colombia, and later in Guyana, expensive journeys past the attain of many.

On Tuesday, the Havana embassy processed its first visa functions in greater than 4 years, though it stated it could restrict the newly renewed providers to oldsters of US residents, a fraction of these searching for visas to maneuver to the USA.

“We’re happy that our restricted restart of immigrant visa processing in Havana has begun properly,” the US embassy stated on social media on Wednesday. “We glance ahead in the longer term to processing many extra immigrant visas and persevering with to increase our consular providers in Havana.”

The USA has stated it would additionally ramp up visa processing for Cubans at its embassy in Guyana to cut back a backlog of circumstances that resulted from staffing shortfalls there throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoors the Havana embassy, Cuban Maria Isabel Fiffer, 23, stated she had heard of the reopening and had come to inquire concerning the standing of her mother-in-law’s petition to see her daughter in the USA.

“Bringing collectively mother and father and kids who’re residents is progress,” she stated. “But we want it to be for everybody.”

The reopening of the US embassy comes as tens of 1000’s of Cubans have left the Caribbean island in latest months for the USA amid an more and more acute financial disaster that has led to lengthy strains for meals, drugs and different fundamental items.

Many fly to Nicaragua, which in November lifted visa necessities for Cubans, then make their means north overland to the Mexican border, a expensive, and infrequently harmful journey.

Cuba says the USA has stoked the migration and unrest by tightening Chilly Warfare-era sanctions to create financial hardship on the island, whereas falling quick on prior commitments to concern 20,000 visas yearly to Cuban nationals wishing to immigrate.

The USA has stated reopening its embassy and issuing visas from Havana is a step in the direction of guaranteeing a extra secure and orderly migration.

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