Cuba to end exit visa requirements for citizens travelling abroad
Cuba has announced it is to end the need for its citizens to obtain strict exit permits before travelling out of the country.
From the 14th January, Cubans will only need a valid passport and visa to exit the island, in stark contrast to the current laws that require the obtaining of long and expensive applications that are commonly rejected.
From 2013, Cuban nationals will be able to leave to the country for a total of 24 months. Currently, those who stay abroad for over 11 months face losing their residency and right to free health care.
Strict migration restrictions on highly qualified people from Cuba, however, will remain. Doctors and similar professionals will struggle to obtain permission for leaving the country as the government fears an exodus of the nation’s most educated who are often referred to as Cuba’s “human capital”.
The change is one of many eased restrictions on the Cuban people since current President Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel in 2008. Under his leadership, Cuba is facing the biggest economic overhaul the country has seen since its Communist Revolution in 1959. Whereas before almost all economic activity was controlled by the state, now new laws have enabled the country’s 11 million plus population to buy and sell property.
Although the historically volatile country remains communist, the progress of new migration laws could suggest a more relaxed state control on the horizon for Cuba.