Cuba Lifts Tough Travel Restrictions on Residents
Cuban officials announced today that residents leaving the country will no longer need to go through the tedious and bureaucratic process of obtaining an exit visa.
The new policy will take affect on January 14th.
Cuba used to require an exit visa as well as a letter of invitation to travel abroad. And Cubans who stayed abroad for more than 11 months would lose residency privileges.
The new policy would only require a passport and visa and travelers would be able to re-file for a visa after 12 months.
Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor has been a strong backer of relaxing strict Cuban travel restrictions.
"I believe this will be very positive in the Tampa bay area for Cuban American families and the potential to grow jobs and become kind of a gateway to Cuba and Latin America," Castor says.
The new policy does allow government to deny travel to doctors, scientists, military personnel and other professionals. Cuban officials claims this is the preserve its "human capital".
Some officials also worry the change could cause an influx of Cuban migrants to the U.S.