14ymedio, Havana, 16 March 2019 — Cubans will no longer be able to obtain a five-year multiple-entry visa for the United States; rather when they travel from the island to visit relatives they will only receive a visa for three months and a single entry, as announced on Friday by Mara Tekach the Chargé d’Affaires for the US Embassy in Havana.
The official emphasized that the measure has its origin in questions of “reciprocity,” given that Cuba only grants Americans visas of two months, extendable for one month and a single entry.
The measure will take effect on March 18 and especially affects B2 category visas for family visits, medical consultations, trips for tourism and shopping; these visas were previously granted for five years and allowed multiple entries.
This change is also a serious blow for Cubans who use the five-year US visa to travel to countries in Latin America as well, and especially Central America, which do not require a visa of their own to those who have the US B2 visa stamped on their passport. These countries include Mexico, Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica, among others.
According to a press release from the US embassy in Havana issued a few hours later with regards to Cubans who already hold a B2 visa, “the five-year, multiple-entry B2 visas remain valid until their expiration date.”
Relations between Washington and Havana have deteriorated since Donald Trump’s arrival to the White House, as he has taken steps in the opposite direction from his predecessor, the Democrat Barack Obama, who pushed a historic diplomatic thaw between the two nations beginning in December 2014.
In January of 2017, just days before the end of his term, Obama put an end to the wet foot/dry foot policy that had granted migratory preferences to Cubans who managed to reach US territory, a measure that was met with harsh criticism within the Island.
In recent months, relations between the two countries have become even more tense due to a series of health incidents suffered by 26 US diplomats in Havana, an episode that the Plaza of the Revolution emphatically denies having organized.
After learning of the so-called “sonic attacks,” the US withdrew most of its staff from its Embassy in Havana and canceled most of the consular procedures. Cubans interested in traveling to the United States must now process their visas in third countries, which has greatly complicated the process.
In recent weeks the tension has escalated even more between both governments due to Havana’s support for Nicolás Maduro, a proximity that Washington considers interference. The Cuban chancellery has responded by standing firmly behind the Chavista regime and accusing the US of planning an armed invasion of the South American country.
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