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Path for Cubans immigrating to US still a challenge

Cubans seeking a path to immigration may not find it any easier, despite immigration policy changes by the Cuban regime. Though Cuba has made it easier for citizens to leave the country, it doesn't mean that citizens can simply board a plane and head to the United States. Cuban tourists still need permission from the U.S. government to enter the states legally. Currently, there is a multi-year wait for an immigration visa.

According to a spokesperson for the State Department, the U.S. welcomes reforms that will allow Cubans to depart and return freely. The State Department asserts that it will remain committed to helping citizens of Cuba safely migrate to the U.S. in accordance with visa requirements. Immigrants in Miami, Florida and nationwide may need the assistance of an experienced advocate to effectively facilitate the immigration and naturalization process.

In 1994, Washington agreed to stop allowing Cubans caught at sea to enter the U.S. In 1995, this was dubbed the "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," meaning that anyone who makes it to shore can stay, but those Cubans caught at seat will be turned away. Thousands of Cubans have been rewarded with entry into the United States and, unlike other immigrants, most Cuban immigrants can seek legal residency and eventually citizenship.

This week, Cuban President Raul Castro announced in the Communist newspaper Granma this week that the rules of changed, however the government can still deny travel for reasons of defense and national security. Many Cubans who have previously been denied exit visas wonder if the rules have really changed or if it will still be difficult to leave.

Cubans who have faced challenges immigrating to the U.S. or in obtaining residency status should consult with an experienced attorney who can review documentation and protect their rights at every stage of the immigration process. Under new policies, Cubans with relatives in the U.S. should find it easier to emigrate. U.S. law allows Cuban immigrants in the U.S. to sponsor relatives to move to the United States.

To support Cuban immigrants, the U.S. is committed to reuniting families. Immediate family members of immigrants already here, including spouses and unmarried children, are granted entry as long their sponsorship application is approved. If you are an immigrant or want to help a family member emigrate to the U.S., an experienced attorney can review your case and help protect your rights.

Source: Huffington Post, "Despite Immigration Policy Change, No Easy Path From Cuba to US," Alicia A. Caldwell, Oct. 17, 2012

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