Cuba announces new migration policies as exodus continues

In this file photo dated Oct 24, 2022, people pass by a house with a Cuban flag hanged on its balcony in Havana. (PHOTO / AFP)

HAVANA – Cuba announced on Tuesday measures that ease restrictions on its citizens living abroad as the nation continues to grapple with an exodus of migrants to the United States.

The foreign ministry said passports would be valid for 10 years, instead of six, for Cubans over 16 years of age, and cut by more than half the costs associated with renewing the travel documents off-island.

The ministry also eliminated a requirement that Cubans pay a fee every two years, even before their passports expired, to maintain their active status.

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The new rules take effect on July 1, said Ernesto Soberon, director of Consular Affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry. He said the measures are focused on "the strengthening of ties with the Cuban community abroad."

Cuba for decades limited emigration of its citizens, and many Cubans living abroad complain of bureaucratic hurtles and exorbitant fees for maintaining ties and renewing travel documents with their home country.

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More than 300,000 Cubans arrived at the US border last year, according to US Customs and Border Patrol data.