U.S. Interests Section information on
consular procedures for travel to the United States
• Following the updating of
the Cuban Migration and Travel Policy, U.S.
officials confirm their regulations remain unchanged
Gómez & Dalia González Delgado
U.S. Interests Section (USIS) in Havana recently
requested an interview with Granma in order
to detail requirements and regulations related to
visa applications to the United States, following
Cuba’s updating of its migration and travel policy.
The meeting, at the Granma newspaper offices,
was attended by Consul General Timothy Roche; Lynn
Roche, director of the Press and Culture Office; and
Patricia Bermúdez, an official from the Visa
USIS Consul General.
(Photo: Vladimir Molina)
Consul General stated that his government positively
welcomes the changes to the Migration Law. However,
he clarified that, on the part of the United States,
migratory regulations have not changed in any aspect
and requisites for obtaining a temporary or
immigrant visa remain the same.
explained that in order to travel to the United
States it is still necessary to apply for a permit
which must be approved by a consular official in an
interview. Roche stressed that strict compliance
with all the steps established to obtain a visa is
essential. (See box).
Currently, he added, the waiting time for a visa
appointment in USIS is 18 months, while the period
required to process this documentation once the
interview has taken place is variable. For those
applying for non-immigrant visa, it is 2-3 days,
although in some cases a longer administrative
processing period is needed, which could take up to
persons applying for immigrant visas, the waiting
period to collect travel documents is approximately
30 days after being interviewed, although in
particular cases it may take 120 days or more.
the case of tourist visas, our laws are very
rigorous and the person traveling has to show that
he or she has strong ties in Cuba, that he or she is
not going to remain in the U.S. to work," the Consul
United States legislation requires "consular
officials to assume that all applicants for
temporary visas are potential immigrants," he
Consul General acknowledged that it is "very
difficult" for a young person to obtain the
necessary permits for this type of travel.
"Many of them go in search of economic opportunities
abroad, while retired adults have stronger ties here
and generally return to their country."
However, figures published by the Cuban government
demonstrate the opposite: the majority of those who
travel do return home. From the year 2000 to August
31, 2012, a total of 941,953 Cubans traveled abroad
for personal reasons, of whom a total of 120,705 –
barely 12.8% – did not return.
According to figures provided by U.S. officials,
between October 2011 and September 2012 the USIS
issued approximately 10,000 temporary visas. Roche
did not discount the possibility that the number of
visas will increase during this fiscal year as a
result of increased applications in the new context
of the Cuban migration and travel policy.
the case of immigrants or persons applying for leave
to remain, there is a range of reasons why a visa
might be denied; for example, a lack of financial
resources on the part of family members in the
United States. We also see many cases of marriage
and divorce for migration purposes, or there may be
public health or national security reasons for
refusing a visa."
a person is refused a visa, he noted, the decision
cannot be appealed although it is not of a permanent
nature. In this context, he recommended "waiting for
at least a year after the date of the last refusal
before reapplying for a non-immigrant visa."
Asked whether these procedures are the same for all
countries, Roche explained that residents in some
developed countries, such as those of the European
Union, Canada or Japan, do not even require a visa.
But "in a very poor country, in Africa, or some of
the less developed countries of Latin America,
regrettably, the refusal rate is higher."
However, the Consul General had no comment as to
why, as opposed to persons from anywhere else in the
world, Cubans are allowed entry without visas if
they succeed in reaching U.S. territory by any
means, under the "dry foot-wet foot" policy and the
Cuban Adjustment Act, while other potential
immigrants, many of them from Latin America, are
pursued and expelled from the country.
Similarly, when asked about the Cuban Medical
Professional Parole program, in operation since
2006, and which stimulates the desertion of Cuban
collaborators in third countries through a
sophisticated brain-drain system, not only affecting
Cubans but all those countries in which they are
working, Roche replied: "I do not have information
about that program, because it is not managed here
Consul General insisted that the United States'
intention is "to promote legal visits and legal,
orderly and safe migration," but he avoided
expressing an opinion on his government's migration
policy toward Cuba, which has provoked painful
losses of human life and whose sole aim is to
promote subversion and destabilization in the
country, justify anti-Cuban propaganda and distort
do not have any comments on these aspects", he
Before ending the interview, USIS officials alerted
Cuban citizens and their families in the United
States to the existence in that country of
fraudulent companies offering appointments and
guaranteed visas, and stressed that the only way of
obtaining these permits is via the steps established
by the Interests Section in Havana.
Given their importance to those concerned,
outlines below the key steps for obtaining a U.S.
or Temporary Visit Visas
Fill in the application form available at
is important to complete the form and send it, as if
it is not correctly filled in before the day of the
interview, the interview will be cancelled and the
The second step is for your contact in the United
States to call 1-866-374-1769, the Call Center, to
schedule an appointment.
Attend the appointment with a current passport, one
50x50mm photo, 160 CUC, and the visa application
confirmation sheet. It is advisable to arrive 30
minutes before the scheduled appointment time, and
no electronic objects or accompanying visitors are
allowed in, except in the case of disabled persons
you wish to live in the United States you need to
have a family member who is either an American
citizen or a permanent resident in that country.
They must submit a completed visa application form
to the United States Citizenship and Immigration
Service. American citizens may apply for family
reunification on behalf of a spouse, parents,
siblings and children (whether these are single or
married). Permanent residents in the United States
have the possibility of applying for a spouse or
unmarried children to join them.