Cuba is top country for U.S. visa refusals worldwide

Despite grim prospect, Cubans make sacrifices to apply for U.S. visa

HAVANA – Cuba remains among the top countries for U.S. Visa refusals.

After the "wet foot, dry foot" policy allowing Cubans who managed to arrive to the U.S. without a visa to stay came to an end Jan. 12., the majority of Cubans who applied for a visa were denied. 

Despite the grim prospect of a nearly 82 percent rate of denial, according to the U.S. Department of State, Cubans were still vying for a chance to come to the U.S.

Ana Maria Chiroles was among dozens who were recently standing in line in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana to apply for a tourist visa.

"I have my grandchildren there and my son," Chiroles said. She added that a "little piece" of her heart was in the U.S. 

Chiroles' brother Juan Chiroles, said they have no intention of staying in the U.S., so the two traveled to Havana from Artemisa to test their luck. Chilores said he owns a bakery, land and cattle. He has no need to  move, he said. They risked $160 each on application fees.  

"I think there is a possibility because I am not a possible immigrant," a hopeful Juan Chiroles said. 

Last year, travelers from Cuba faced a lower possibility of getting a visa than any other country in the world, according to data from the U.S. Department. The possibility was less likely for Cubans than it was for travelers from countries with U.S. travel warnings related to terrorism in Afghanistan and Maurtania. 

After waiting for hours, Chiroles siblings walked out of the U.S. embassy heart broken. Their visa request was denied. 

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC | A look at the numbers

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.