U.S. government plans to increase visa processing in Havana
The Biden administration seeks to ease the process for Cubans to obtain visas.
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Under Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs Brian A. Nichols told a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Thursday, Feb. 3 that Washington will send temporary duty consular officers to the U.S. embassy in Havana to increase visa processing for Cuban applicants. It's a move that relaxes limits imposed by the Trump administration.
TUNE IN: Today, the Committee hosts a hearing entitled "Overview of U.S. Priorities in the Western Hemisphere: Opportunities, Challenges and the Path Ahead" with expert witnesses:— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) February 3, 2022
-@WHAAsstSecty Brian Nichols
In October 2017, the Trump administration withdrew 60% of diplomatic staff from the island due to health incidents that became known as 'Havana Syndrome.' Since then, Cubans applying for U.S. visas have been forced to travel to Guyana to complete the necessary procedures.
Last week, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Guyana said Washington will expand consular services to Cubans "at the appropriate time," in a Facebook Q&A session in which they said the White House is working to increase staffing at its embassy in Havana.
Remittances for Cubans
According to a report by Reuters, the White House has also received recommendations to expand remittances to Cuba that were severely restricted under Trump. Regarding the issue, Nichols said "we are waiting for a decision."
In addition, a senior U.S. official said in November that the White House had received proposals for remittances, but some were sent back for further analysis and to ensure money sent by Cuban-Americans to their families on the island does not fall into the hands of the regime.
Biden also reportedly asked the Treasury Department and the State Department in July to study the matter and report on how to allow the flow of remittance payments, once a financial lifeline for many Cubans.
"Those recommendations are in the hands of the White House and we are awaiting their decision," Nichols said during the hearing.