US to resume immigrant visa processing at Havana Embassy

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MIAMI – The United States will once again allow Cubans to apply for immigrant visas at the United States Embassy in Havana.

The United States suspended services in 2017 after embassy diplomats fell ill with what was called “Havana syndrome”. Cuba has denied targeting embassy staff and Havana Syndrome has been reported in several parts of the world since then.

For the past five years, Cubans who wanted to enter the United States had to apply for visas through third countries. Critics said the process was too expensive and time-consuming.

State Department officials said visa processing in Havana would begin early next year.

The move comes amid the biggest flight of Cubans from the island in decades. Nearly 221,000 Cubans were encountered by migration police at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022. This is a 471% increase from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The US Border Patrol said there had been a nearly 300% increase in the number of migrants arriving in Florida by boat.

They said that in October there were 54 landings, involving 850 migrants, compared to just 14 landings in October 2021.

In recent months, Border Patrol said it has seen an increase in the number of migrants, mainly from Haiti and Cuba.

Cubans intercepted en route to Florida said they were fleeing deteriorating economic and political conditions.

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