The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is set to resume full immigrant visa processing for Cubans for the first time since 2017, at the beginning of 2023, saying it hopes to facilitate “orderly migration” into the United States and help reunite families separated by national borders.
The move was announced Wednesday, reversing a 2017 decision by former President Donald Trump to pause full visa processing for Cuban citizens.
“Consistent with our commitments under the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection to facilitate safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration, the United States is today announcing an expansion of regular pathways available to Cubans wishing to come to the United States and an increase in personnel at the US embassy in Havana,” it said in a statement, noting that visa processing will begin again sometime in early 2023.
The decision comes in the wake of immigration talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in April, when the two sides discussed the implementation of the Cuba Migration Accords, with Washington agreeing to accept a minimum of 20,000 Cuban migrants per year, not counting immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Additionally, Cubans looking to reunite with family members will no longer be required to travel to Guyana for their interviews, as was required by the Trump White House.
Relations between the two countries have vacillated in recent years, with former President Barack Obama easing a decades-old blockade on Cuba before Trump’s term, which was much more hostile toward the communist-ruled island.
Cuba’s government had welcomed the announcements, saying they «were a s.mall step in the right direction,» despite them still not changing the fact that Cuba has been under a U.S embargo since 1962, which the island nation considers to be the main reason behind its economic troubles.