Our Statement on the Resumption of Full Immigrant Visa Processing at U.S. Embassy Havana
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Cuba Study Group celebrates the announcement this week that full immigrant visa processing will resume at the U.S. Embassy in Havana in early 2023 after an interruption of five years. This change will alleviate the suffering of thousands of Cuban families, help restore confidence in American diplomacy, and once again provide legal, safe pathways for Cubans to immigrate to the United States. The announcement builds on steps taken over the last year to restaff the embassy with U.S. personnel and gradually begin processing an immense backlog of immigrant visa applications, including those under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (CFRP). It will also position the United States to better fulfill its obligation of providing 20,000 immigrant visas a year to Cuban nationals, per long-standing U.S.-Cuba migration accords.
Yet 20,000 annual visas represents but a small fraction of the roughly 200,000 Cubans on pace to reach the United States this fiscal year, most via the U.S.-Mexico border. In light of Cuba’s current crisis—its worst in thirty years with no end in sight—the Biden administration must do more to address how U.S. policies compound the hardships caused by Cuban misgovernance to drive this unprecedented exodus. Namely, it must reconsider and correct the ongoing humanitarian impact of decades-old, blanket sanctions that disproportionately harm innocent Cuban citizens.
Regarding consular affairs, we hope this announcement is also a prelude to the resumption of non-immigrant visa services. Restoring opportunities for qualified Cuban nationals to visit the United States on a temporary basis—whether to visit family, participate in professional exchanges, or secure resources and inputs for civic activism and private enterprise—can further reduce incentives to migrate in search of a better life away from home. In particular, the five-year, multiple-entry visa can facilitate the circulation of knowledge and resources in ways that convince talented Cubans capable of shaping the future of their country that they have more choices at their immediate disposal than whether to simply stay or go.