The US embassy in Cuba expanded consular services -which had been semi-paralyzed for four years- with the processing of some categories of visas for family reunification of close relatives of its citizens.
The diplomatic headquarters will resume the schedule of immigrant visa appointments for spouses and minor children, it indicated this Friday in a statement. Interview dates will be sent to applicants through the mail and will begin in July.
The measure comes after an initial opening in May and in the midst of a record of irregular migration to the United States, including families tired of waiting for more than seven years to be reunited or who could not reach Guyana, where the Washington authorities moved their operation for Cubans.
“This change is part of the current expansion of the embassy’s functions to facilitate diplomatic and civil society engagement and provide consular services,” added the statement published on the diplomatic mission’s social networks.
In early May the embassy had resumed its consular service on a limited basis to process visas but only for parents of US citizens. In 2017, then-President Donald Trump withdrew his diplomatic staff under the accusation -later unproven- of sonic attacks on his employees and as part of a tightening of sanctions on the Caribbean nation.
His successor Joe Biden promised a review of Trump’s policy of maximum pressure against the island’s political model, but it was only this year that he began to make some timid provisions such as lifting the limits on remittances -although it is still unknown how the shipments- or the resumption of flights from the United States to other Cuban destinations other than Havana.
“We chose the categories of immediate relatives in recognition of the importance of family reunification for US citizens,” the US Embassy said. “Although we understand that other applicants may have difficult circumstances … the US embassy in Havana is still unable to accept transfer requests from other visa categories,” he said.
For now, for other permits and procedures, the activity continues in Guyana, where Cubans must travel sometimes making expensive trips, which has worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of air traffic.
According to the United States Customs and Border Protection Office, in the last six months there were 79,800 arrests of Cubans at the land border, a little more than double the entire fiscal year -from October to September- of 2021 and five times more than in 2020.