St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses Changes on Rules for Cuban Visitors

Immigration law has been under scrutiny for the past year due to its stagnant spot. However, for Cuban immigrants seeking admission to the U.S., things just got easier as the detested “white card” needed to leave has been eliminated by the Cuban government.

Cuban Government made traveling impossible for Cubans

For years, the process of getting an exit permit from Cuban authorities and permission from the U.S. government to come to the U.S. has prevented many immigrants from visiting family and friends. In the case of Cuban taxi driver Benito Perez, 67, he has never yet been on a plane and has denied his friend’s invitations to visit Miami because the process would either take too long or the flights would be too expensive. However, last year things changed as the government changed policies regarding white cards and the U.S. government began issuing multiple-entry visas that could be used for five years. This time, Perez was not only granted his visa request, but he was given a passport. “This is an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my days,” Perez said.

Changing laws allow Cubans to get non-immigrant visas

Perez is like thousands of other Cubans traveling under the new migration laws as of this year. The number of Cubans receiving U.S. nonimmigrants visas jumped by 82 percent between October 2012 and July 2013 according to the U.S. State Department. The demand for these visas has spiked after the announcement of the elimination of the exit permit requirement. As of right now over 26,266 visas have been issued. “Nonimmigrant visa issuances have increased significantly as the U.S. Interests Section in Havana has worked to meet growing demand and reduce a backlog of visa appointments,” the department said in a statement. Although traveling is now possible, this does not mean it is an easy process. Cuba is afraid of a brain drain as doctors, scientists and members of the military try to leave. Cuban authorities can still deny travel in cases of defense and “national security.”

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.