Cuba Publishes Draft Laws on Migration and Immigration

Draft Laws on Migration and Immigration

The Cuban government has published on the website of the National Assembly of People’s Power the drafts of the migration and immigration bills. These legislative texts introduce several significant changes to the regulations governing the entry, exit, and stay of Cubans and foreigners on the island.

The drafts come after years of study and were presented to the Council of Ministers in March, where they received some observations. According to the preamble, these issues have already been resolved, so it is expected that the National Assembly will make few modifications before their final approval, scheduled for the next session period in July.

Main Changes in the Migration Law

One of the main changes in the migration bill is the removal of the 24-month limit on stays abroad for Cubans to maintain their residency on the island. Instead, the concept of “effective migratory residency” is created, which will be granted to Cubans who spend most of their time each year in the national territory or demonstrate ties through a combination of stay and “other material evidence.”

The draft divides residents into two categories: residents in the national territory (who can be temporary or permanent) and residents abroad. The latter includes Cubans living outside the country, former “emigrants” who will be able to regularize their situation, and investors and businesspeople who participate in the island’s economic model.

In addition, the possibility for Cubans to renounce their citizenship is contemplated. Those who do so will be treated as foreigners and must enter the country with a foreign passport and visa. If they have more than one nationality, they must use the same document they used to enter Cuba.

Restrictions on Entering and Leaving the Country

The draft maintains the possibility for authorities to prevent entry into the country for reasons such as “national defense and security,” “internal order,” and “public interest and order.” It also regulates the practice of banning individuals from leaving the national territory.

Although it eliminates some of the reasons that previously allowed these restrictions, such as having carried out “hostile acts” against the Cuban State or being declared “inadmissible,” the norm proposes that decisions can be communicated verbally, through third parties such as airline employees, without the need for a substantiated administrative resolution.

cuban woman looks at her cell phone Cuban communities have more Internet access, says Etecsa

The drafters justify the lack of administrative appeals against these decisions by describing them as “exceptional.” The only mechanism for challenge provided is the judicial procedure of amparo, which requires the presence of the affected party in Cuba or the appointment of a representative through a costly consular procedure.

Changes to Attract Diaspora Investment

The preamble of the draft acknowledges that one of its objectives is to attract residents abroad to invest in the island. The changes respond to the country’s economic situation and seek to facilitate the participation of the diaspora in the Cuban economic model.

However, this openness could create problems for some emigrants, especially those who have applied for asylum in countries like the United States. Receiving inherited properties or expressing an intention to return to the island could be seen as a sign of “immigration fraud” and lead to the loss of refugee status, experts warn.

Immigration Law: Partial Regulation

In parallel to the migration law, the government has also presented a draft immigration law, with the stated objective of regulating the entry, stay, and exit of foreigners, as well as their rights and duties on the island.

However, the draft does not address in detail issues such as the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, figures absent from the Cuban legal system. Nor does it specify the procedures for granting visas and residence permits, or the ways to challenge denials.

A Legislative Process Underway

The new migration and immigration bills represent a significant update to Cuban regulations in these areas. They contain important changes, such as the end of the limit on stays abroad and the possibility of renouncing citizenship, demands raised by the diaspora.

However, they also maintain some controversial provisions, such as the possibility of preventing entry to or exit from the country for reasons of national security, and establish limited appeal procedures. The immigration law, for its part, leaves relevant aspects unregulated for foreigners visiting or residing on the island.

Omar walks from havana to el cobre Omar walks from Havana to El Cobre for his sick son’s life

The government has stated that the purpose of publishing the drafts is to promote citizen participation and legal culture. Cubans will be able to send their opinions via email or phone calls. However, considering that the main discrepancies seem to have already been resolved, it is likely that the laws will be approved without substantial changes.

In any case, this is an ongoing legislative process that should be closely followed. The practical application of the new norms will determine their real impact on the rights and freedoms of movement of Cubans and foreigners.

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