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Cuba > Articles


A Brief Guide To Residence Permits In Cuba

  Posted Wednesday September 30, 2015 (10:15:07)

Image © Pascal Hassenforder on Flickr

Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is famous for its natural beauty, tropical weather, pristine beaches, clear waters, and historic buildings. Often called “The Pearl of The Caribbean”, this island is around 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Florida.

It is essential to obtain the relevant permits before entering Cuba. A tourist visa is only valid for 30 days (90 days if you are Canadian) and can be extended for a further 30 once you are there.

If you plan on staying in this country for a longer period of time, a residence permit may be a better option.

Types of Residence Permits

There are three main types of resident visas that are suitable for expats.

Student Visa

There are thirteen Universities across Cuba, and all offer courses in Spanish for foreign students. If you decide to study in this country after obtaining a student visa, you could stay on for months or even years. Initially, this visa too is only valid for 30 days, but it can be renewed for the duration of the course with the help of the university.

Foreigners usually travel to Cuba on a tourist visa and apply at universities. When they are admitted, the university helps them to get a student visa. Alternately, you could also apply at universities from your home country. If you’re selected, your school will put in a request with the Immigration department for your student visa. You’ll need to let the school know your full name, nationality, passport number, date of birth and expected date of arrival in Cuba. Your local consulate or embassy will be notified when the visa is granted.

It is necessary for expat students to stay at a university residence, licensed private home or tourist resort for the duration of the course.

Temporary Resident Visa

There are a few foreign companies on the island who hire people from overseas. If you are planning to invest or take up a job in Cuba you’ll need to apply for a temporary residence visa. This permit will allow you to stay on in the country for a year, providing you are employed.

There are different categories of temporary resident visa issues by the Government. These include:

- D1 Visas: Employees with special or technical qualifications
- D2 Visas: Students & scientists
- D3 Visas: Artists
- D4 Visas: Athletes
- D5 Visas: Asylum seekers and refugees
- D6 Visas: Journalists
- D7 Visas: Businesspeople & traders
- D8 Visas: Religious workers
- D10 Visas: Medical tourists

Temporary residence holders are required to live in an official home that has been rented out by a hotel, or could opt for licensed tourist accommodation.

Permanent Resident Visa

Getting permanent residence in Cuba can be quite a challenge. You have to either be married or related to a Cuban to be eligible for this type of permit. If you do get this visa, you’re regarded as a citizen. You will receive an ID as well as a ration book.

Up until a few years ago, foreigners applying for permanent residence had to deposit at least 5,000 CUC (US$ 5000, € 4462, £ 3292) in a Cuban account to assure the authorities that they’re financially independent. Today, proof of adequate income or investment is enough. Like in most other countries, you’ll also need to undergo medical tests.

This permit allows you long-term lease of a legal private room or tourist accommodation.

Applying for a Residence Permit

An application for a visa can be made at the Cuban Consulate or Embassy in your home country. The documents required will vary, depending upon the type of visa you are applying for.

For a tourist visa, student visa or temporary residence, you need to submit:

- Valid passport (should be valid for at least 6 months from your expected date of return)
- Completed visa application form
- Proof of payment for the application fee
- Return flight ticket (for tourist visa)
- Admission and course details (for student visa)
- Employment contract (for temporary residence)
- Recent photographs

For a permanent residence permit, additional documents are required, which include:

- A request letter, outlining reasons
- A form with your personal details filled in
- Birth certificate and police records
- Notarized rent agreement
- Economic reliability evidence
- Marriage certificate, which conforms to Cuban laws
- Identity card of your spouse or relative
- 40 CUC in stamps

Visas for Americans

It is important to note that Cuba is strictly off-limits to American tourists because of the trade and travel embargo. Recently though, it became possible for US citizens to visit Cuba for certain purposes. There are 12 categories under which travel to Cuba has been authorized for American nationals. Some of the categories include professional research, educational activities, concert performances, participation in athletic events, and humanitarian project work.

Can we improve this article? Something wrong? Let us know in the comments.

References: [1], [2]


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