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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Returning to Cuba still not easy

Returning to Cuba still not easy
Posted Sep 5, 2016 at 6:41 PM
Updated Sep 5, 2016 at 8:23 PM
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Cuba does not recognize dual citizenship, leading to separate guidelines
for Cuban-born American citizens who travel to the island.

By Yadira Lopez yadira.lopez@heraldtribune.com

As far as the Cuban government is concerned: Once a Cuban, always a Cuban.

Americans have found it easier to visit the island after Obama began
easing restrictions in 2014. But citizens born in Cuba must still take
extra steps before they can travel to their birth country. The Cuban
government does not recognize dual citizenship, forcing Cuban-born
American citizens to renew the island's passport.


On its website, the U.S. embassy in Havana warns travelers: "The
Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S.
citizens who are Cuban-born. These individuals will be treated solely as
Cuban citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and
obligations."

The cost of a Cuban passport is in the $350-$450 range. It can take up
to four months to process. While it remains valid for six years, it must
be stamped every two years, for an additional $230 each time, in order
to remain active.

Travelers must still use a valid American passport when departing and
entering the U.S.

Although Americans born in the states need a visa to travel to Cuba,
they can easily obtain one for $25-$30 from automated machines available
at airports prior to arrival on the island.

"You'll get there before I do," is what Rick Gomez tells friends who ask
him when he's going to Cuba. Gomez, a senior vice president at the
wealth management company Northern Trust in Sarasota, said the passport
requirements are a big deal.

"They impose a barrier on native-born Cubans returning to the island,"
he said. Gomez came to the U.S. as a child and has never returned. He
said the requirement has delayed his decision to visit Cuba.

There is one caveat to the passport regulation. Cubans who left the
island before Dec. 31, 1970, can travel solely with their American
passports, but they must obtain a travel visa. The fees are in the $200
range.

Applicants often complain that the visa takes too long to process and
that, since they're only valid for a one-time entry for 30 days and
expire 90 days after they're issued, it can wreak havoc on travel plans,
particularly for those who may need to visit sick or elderly relatives
at any given moment.

Such is the story of Bradenton resident Josefina Carranza, who came to
the U.S. in 1961 disguised as a nun to avoid detection. Carranza, 73,
went back to Cuba for the first time in 1995. The wait for the visa was
so long that she eventually decided to just apply for the passport. Now
she travels back to Cuba yearly to visit her elderly mother.

Every now and again there are rumors that the government will lift the
passport requirement. Fat chance, according to Carranza and many other
Cubans. The revenue is too good to pass up, particularly now that Cuba's
economy, highly dependent on Venezuela's, is once again facing uncertain
times.

Source: Returning to Cuba still not easy -
http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20160905/returning-to-cuba-still-not-easy
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