14ymedio, Havana, 13 October 2017 — The US embassy in Bogotá will assume the work of issuing immigrant visas to Cubans for as long as the process is suspended at the embassy in Havana as a result of the reduction of personnel that took place because of the acoustic attacks that affected embassy workers.
“Due to the suspension of immigrant visa services at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, the United States Department of State has designated the US Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia to process immigrant visas for Cuban residents,” a State Department press release said.
The press release points out that it is still unclear when the interviews for Cuban applicants at the Bogota embassy will begin to be scheduled.
“Due to the suspension of immigrant visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, the U.S. Department of State has designated the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia to process immigrant visas for residents of Cuba. At this time, we are determining when we can begin scheduling Cuban applicants for interviews at Embassy Bogota. If NVC has not scheduled your case at Embassy Havana, they will schedule your visa interview at Embassy Bogota. NVC will send you, your petitioner, and your agent/attorney (if applicable) an email or letter noting the interview location, date and time. Please contact NVC through the Ask NVC online contact form for your updated status,” it said.
The statement also explains that if the person applying for the visa has not yet been interviewed they will be contacted “soon.” For those who have already been interviewed, the US Embassy in Havana will contact them to provide “additional instructions” and those who have not yet had their visa applications approved will have to contact the Citizenship and Immigration Service. United States Immigration (USCIS ) to learn the updated status of their case.
The statement adds that the headquarters of Havana will handle diplomatic visas, official or unusual emergency cases in which the applicant has a serious illness requiring treatment in the United States.
“We understand that this is a significant change and a nuisance for visa applicants, but the number of consular officials in Cuba at this time does not allow us to continue with normal visa operations in Havana,” it adds.
The existence of this alternative opens a door for thousands of Cubans who were waiting with uncertainty for a way to get to the US. However, the requirement to go to Bogotá greatly complicates the process, and Colombia also requires visas for Cuban citizens.
Since the migration crisis reached its peak in late 2015, Colombia has increased the number of requirements for visa applicants applying at its consulate in Havana. The appointments to be seen in that country’s consular headquarters are also difficult to obtain and the visa application form must be completed via the internet, a step already difficult for many nationals.
In August of last year Colombian police arrested 35 suspects forming an international network involved in the trafficking of more than 3,200 migrants from Colombia to the United States and Canada. The traffickers were led by two Cubans who controlled the transfer of migrants from the island, mostly to the United States.
The United States also announced Thursday that it will keep active the program that allows Americans and permanent residents to apply for permission for their relatives in Cuba to visit them, but has not yet revealed how it will proceed to process the requests.