WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the statement below following the U.S. Embassy in Havana’s announcement that they will resume full immigrant visa processing for Cuban nationals for the first time since 2017. Currently, Cubans seeking visas to the U.S. have to travel to the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana to have their applications processed. 

“I have long pushed to reform our relationship with Cuba, which for decades has been defined by conflicts of the past instead of looking toward the future. I’m encouraged that the Biden administration will soon expand our consular presence in Havana by restarting full immigrant visa processing services,” said Klobuchar. “This announcement will enable more Cuban nationals to legally and safely travel to our country, allowing them to fill critical workforce shortages and reunite with family living in the U.S.”

Klobuchar has long worked to change U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba and has repeatedly urged senior administration officials to end the trade embargo and strengthen support for the Cuban people. In May 2021, she introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba, boosting Cuban exports and allowing Cubans greater access to American goods. This legislation does not repeal portions of the law that address human rights or property claims against the Cuban government.

Cuba relies on agricultural imports to feed the 11 million people who live there and the approximately 4 million tourists who visited in 2019 prior to the pandemic. The U.S. International Trade Commission found that if restrictions on trade with Cuba had been lifted, exports like wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans could increase by 166 percent within five years to a total of about $800 million.