The Biden administration said on Wednesday that the U.S. Embassy in Cuba will begin processing full immigrant visas in early 2023, making it easier for Cubans to reunite with family members in the United States.
In 2017 the embassy in Havana had processed full immigrant visas. The U.S. government will stop requiring Cubans seeking visas in family preference categories to travel to Georgetown, Guyana for their interviews.
Additional government staff will be hired to handle visa requests at the embassy. The added personnel are part of the commitment stemming from the resumption of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program last month. The 2007 program allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for their family members in Cuba to come to the U.S. sooner than conventionally allowed.
The U.S. has committed to the legal migration of at least 20,000 Cubans annually, not including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that attempted border crossings by Cubans have increased sharply over the past year. U.S. officials stopped Cubans trying to enter the U.S. 19,057 times in August, a four-fold increase from August 2021, according to U.S. officials.
Repeat crossings have been fueled by the fact that there are no legal consequences for getting expelled under a pandemic-era rule known as Title 42. That rule denies a right to seek asylum.