In late 2014, the governments of the United States and Cuba announced their intentions of reestablishing diplomatic ties for the first time since the early 1960s. Ever since that historic announcement, both governments have been trying to advance their common interests, which include the reopening of their respective embassies.
As the situation currently stands, the State Department plans to open an embassy in Havana on August 14th with Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who was sent to Cuba last summer, serving as ambassador. Likewise, the Cuban Foreign Ministry will open an embassy in Washington on the same day, and a flagpole has already been installed in front of an office building in Columbia Heights.
As can be expected, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between these two nations has brought about a great interest about the possibility of obtaining visas and applying for immigration status. To this effect, it is important to remember that Cuba was formally removed by the U.S. from the dreaded State Sponsors of Terrorism list in May. Does this mean that Americans and Cubans are now freely allowed to travel for tourism and immigration purposes?
Major travel operators such as JetBlue and Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced Cuba as a new route from the U.S., and there is even a ferry service from South Florida in the works. However, travel restrictions and obstacles to regular immigration remain in effect. Instead of visas, there are twelve categories of permissible travel that will be evaluated by the respective embassies as part of their consular services. Some of the travel purposes within these categories include: humanitarian projects, journalism, family reunions, religious visits, educational trips, and seven others.
For the time being, U.S. and Cuban citizens interested in traveling between these two nations should inquire with immigration legal professionals about their options, which are bound to change and be modified shortly after the embassies reopen.
For more information on travel to Cuba, reach out to KS Visa Law. We are a premier immigration law firm in San Diego offering free consultations where you can ask questions and learn more about your particular situation. Give us a call at (858) 874-0711.