Starting today, travel for Cubans is a whole new ballgame, mainly because they no longer need an exit visa to leave the island nation. That might not sound like much to get excited about but for Cubans, that exit visa was seen as a major obstacle for those who wanted to travel in the past.
In the past, U.S./Cuban relations have made leaving Cuba difficult for its citizens. To get off the island, travelers had to get a letter of invitation from the person they wanted to visit, pay a $200 fee and get permission to be away from work.
“As far as I know, Cuba is the only country with these rules. They shouldn’t exist,” argued Yenier Prado, who had to wait four months to get his exit permit in a BBC report.
Now, Cuban travelers with a valid passport can stay away for two years instead of 11 months and extend that time further, skipping the fees and permission/invitation to travel. Better yet, Cubans who left illegally over eight years ago will be able to return to Cuba, no questions asked.
The idea is that by making it easier to travel, more Cubans will work and study abroad then come back to Cuba with their new skills and money.
As a developing nation, Cubans will still need visas to visit most places around the planet. The United States issues about 20,000 immigrant visas for Cubans each year. Still, this marks a great step in the right direction.
Over the years, many Cubans tried getting to the United States via homemade rafts and were often picked up by cruise ships in the area, only to be eventually returned to Cuba. That’s because of what is referred to as the Wet Foot/Dry Foot rule, which allows those who make it to the shores of the United States to stay while those intercepted are returned, as we see in this recent video:
[Photo Credit- Flickr User flippinyank]