Thu | Jul 7, 2022

US resumes limited visa processing in Cuba after four years

Published:Thursday | May 5, 2022 | 9:36 AM
People wait their turns outside the US Embassy the day after it reopened its consular services in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramón Espinosa)

HAVANA (AP) — The United States Embassy in Havana has resumed processing visas for Cubans, though on a limited basis, more than four years after stopping consular services on the island amid a hardening of relations.

The resumption comes as the number of Cubans trying to emigrate illegally to the United States surges.

A State Department official on Wednesday told The Associated Press that for the time being US officials in Havana will only process visa requests from Cubans who are the parents of US citizens, under a category known as IR-5, and that the Biden administration in the future will evaluate expanding the services to others.

The official, who was not authorised to be quoted by name, said the US government decided to process only visa requests from this group because of “the unique age, health, and mobility challenges for this category of applicants.”

Any other applicants should apply for visas through the US Embassy in Guyana, as they've done since 2018, when the administration of former President Donald Trump withdrew embassy staff from Havana.

Operations at the US Embassy in Cuba started being reduced in 2017 following reports of unexplained health problems among some employees, which became known as the “Havana Syndrome” and was a major issue during the Trump administration.

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