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Cuban Travel Takes a Step in the Right Direction

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Cubans celebrated the first day of migration reform on Monday by lining up outside embassies and travel agencies with high hopes to travel. With the reform, Cuban citizens will have more freedom to apply for foreign visas and travel outside of the island without exit visas. Doing away with the exit visa, also called the white card, is an action Cubans have awaited for years. The longstanding requirement to produce an expensive letter of invitation by the host country is also dissipating.

Among the most influential reforms under President Raul Castro, the legislation is made up of new rules for emigration and immigration, so it will also allow more Cubans living abroad to travel back to Cuba with ease.

A visa is still needed to enter almost any country Cubans wish to visit. There is a short list of countries that the government will allow its citizens to travel to visa free: Malaysia, Hungary, Russia, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Cristobal and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Residency rights can now be kept while living abroad for up to 24 months, making it easier to work and study with plans to return.  The two-year allowance will also create fewer complications for Cubans to gain residency in the U.S., and has the potential to create a new population that moves back and forth frequently.

As visas are still needed for entry, only time will tell how much travel will really increase. In any case, the reform is a huge step in the right direction for a country that has long been nicknamed the “island prison.”

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By Courtney Crockett for PeterGreenberg.com

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