Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Visa complaints

Granma ran an article that may preview Cuba’s message when representatives of Cuba and the United States meet to review the migration accords later this month: “The business is to deny visas, not grant them.”

It cites a “study” by the writer that complains that the U.S. consulate in Havana denies nonimmigrant visas at a very high rate (he cites no percentage) for people wishing to visit family in the United States.  He calculates that a week’s take in interview fees ($175 a pop) is about a half million dollars.  He also alleges that U.S. consular officials take bribes for visas.

No officials are quoted.

The article cites examples of grandmothers who want to visit and return to Cuba.  I’m sure some of them are denied visas when the consulate judges that an applicant for a visitor’s visa really wants to settle in the United States for good.  That happens every day at U.S. consulates everywhere.

The next day, the Herald reported on the State Department’s response, including the fact that 29,000 immigrant visas were issued in 2012:

Revealing previously unknown and surprisingly large figures, the USINT statement said 16,767 Cubans received visitors visas in the first six months of 2013, compared to 9,369 in the same period last year — a 79 percent spike — and that another 29,000 received migrant visas in 2012. Under a 1994 bilateral accord, Washington promised to issue at least 20,000 migrant documents to Cubans per year.

The spikes were the result of stepped-up visa interviews by US consular officials in Havana, from 150 to 600 per day, to clear out a large and years-old backlog of applications. But Havana also greatly eased its restrictions on Cubans’ travel abroad as of Jan. 14.

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