(CNN) — The US embassy will resume full processing of immigrant visas by January 4, 2023, Rina Bitter, assistant secretary for consular affairs, said this week after completing a trip to Havana.
In a press release posted on Twitter on Thursday, Bitter and USCIS Director Ur Mendoza Jadou discussed resuming full immigrant visa processing as well as resuming the process of parole for Cuban family reunification. Of.
Bitter also expressed concern to the Cuban authorities about the human rights situation in the country and urged the Cuban government to release all political prisoners.
On Monday, the State Department announced that Bitter would travel to Havana this week “to discuss the full resumption of immigrant visa processing in early 2023 and the recent resumption of Cuban family reunification parole processing” at the United States Embassy in Havana. to discuss” of the host government.
In the meeting with US officials, Carlos Fernandez de Cosio, the island’s top diplomatic deputy minister for US affairs, “reiterated the importance of re-establishing all consular and visa services,” according to a statement from Cuba’s foreign ministry.
Services were suspended in 2017 after US diplomats suffered a series of unexplained health events, known as “Havana syndrome”.
Cuban officials denied that there had been any targeted attacks on American personnel, but as a result of the incidents, Cubans were forced to apply for visas at US embassies in third countries, which many said It was a very expensive and lengthy process.
Although limited visa services were renewed at the embassy in 2022, this year saw an exodus of Cubans leaving the island, traveling through Central America and Mexico to the US or by boat through the Florida Straits.
More than 200,000 Cubans have crossed the border from Mexico to the US in the past 12 months, according to US government data, and thousands have tried to reach the US by boat amid a worsening economic situation on the communist-ruled island.