US Adds Staff to Embassy in Havana to Expand Visa Processing

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The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, November 14, 2018.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, November 14, 2018.

mocner@miamiherald.com

The Biden administration is expanding immigrant visa services for Cubans amid a record influx of migrants from the island nation to US borders.

The United States announced on Wednesday an “expansion of the regular pathways available to Cubans wishing to come to the United States” and an increase in the staff of the United States Embassy in Havana working on visa processing, after consultation with the Cuban government.

“As part of the regular lane expansion, beginning in early 2023, the U.S. Embassy Havana will resume full processing of immigrant visas for the first time since 2017,” the House said. White in a press release. “Immigrant visas provide eligible individuals with a pathway for safe and orderly migration. This change will also eliminate the need for Cubans applying for an immigrant visa in the family preference categories to travel outside of Cuba to Georgetown, Guyana for their interviews.

The administration is grappling with an increase in irregular migration from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — a shift from traditional sources of migration in the Western Hemisphere and a challenge for Washington, which has limited engagement diplomacy with the three autocratic governments.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, hinted at the news.

“We actually had a series of discussions with the Cuban government about restarting visas,” Sullivan said. “The United States provides a significant number of visas for Cubans to be able to come directly from Cuba to the United States and not make the difficult journey. And we will continue to engage with them on the issue of migration.

“What you will see in the weeks to come is a huge amount of intensive diplomacy as we work with all the countries in the region to do their part to help solve the migration issues from Cuba or Nicaragua. and Venezuela in particular,” Sullivan added.

In addition to expanding visa processing, the administration said it would increase the number of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana working on processing applications and conducting interviews with applicants. to the Cuban parole program for family reunification.

Michael Wilner is McClatchy’s senior national security and White House correspondent. A member of the White House team since 2019, he led coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Wilner previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is originally from New York.

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