WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The US embassy in Cuba will begin processing immigrant visas as early as 2023, making it easier for Cubans to reunite with their families in the country, President Joe Biden’s administration announced Wednesday.
The embassy in Havana stopped processing immigrant visas in 2017. The US government will eliminate the requirement that Cubans applying for visas in the Family Preference category travel to Georgetown, Guyana for their interview.
The embassy will have additional staff to process the visas. The reason for adding personnel is the resumption of the Cuban Family Reunification Permit (CFRP) last month. This 2007 program allows US citizens and permanent residents to request that their relatives in Cuba travel to the United States earlier than usual.
Under agreements with Cuba, the United States has agreed to allow legal immigration of at least 20,000 Cubans per year, excluding immediate relatives of American citizens.
Border crossing attempts by Cubans have increased significantly over the past year, according to data released Monday by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). US authorities made 19,057 arrests of Cubans trying to enter the country in August, four times more than in August 2021.
Border crossings have increased in part because repeat offenders face no legal consequences as they are removed during the pandemic under a rule known as Title 42, which denies the right to seek asylum. .