Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2017, 08:57 GMT

Cuba: A government measure passed in 1999 that prevented public health workers from exiting; those affected by this measure; conditions for their exit; types of exit visas in existence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 21 June 2000
Citation / Document Symbol CUB34508.E
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Cuba: A government measure passed in 1999 that prevented public health workers from exiting; those affected by this measure; conditions for their exit; types of exit visas in existence, 21 June 2000, CUB34508.E, available at: [accessed 22 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

For information on the types and conditions of exit permits in Cuba, please refer to CUB32543.E of 1 October 1999, CUB32334.E of 6 July 1999, and other previous Responses. Please note that these Responses refer to temporary and permanent exit permits and some include references to the need for a re-entry permit in order to return to Cuba.

Country Reports 1999 refers to a specific travel restriction imposed on health professionals in 1999, stating:

In July the Government issued Resolution 54, which provides for the denial of exit permits to recently graduated professionals, in particular medical professionals, until they have performed 3 to 5 years of service in their profession. There were reports that the Government also was denying exit permits to trained medical personnel who already have practiced their profession for more than 5 years, although the published regulations on the subject do not contain such a provision (25 Feb. 2000, Section 2.d).

A 13 September 1999 report from El Nuevo Herald reproduced by CubaNet reports that Resolution No. 54 was issued by the Public Health Ministry and apparently went into effect in July 1999. The Ministerial Resolution reportedly refers to health professionals who marry a foreigner or who request a permanent exit, stipulating that these will have to wait at least five years, be relocated to a rural area and receive satisfactory evaluations throughout those years before being considered for an exit permit (CubaNet 13 Sept. 1999). The period is reduced to three years for doctors who do not have an area of specialization, and for retired doctors (ibid.). The Resolution adds that temporary travel abroad is prohibited, whether for personal reasons, to participate in events, or study with a scholarship; the exceptions to this would be in cases where the studies or events are deemed to be of interest to the Ministry, or for personal reasons in cases warranting particular humanitarian considerations (ibid.).

The above restrictions were first reported by CubaNet on 9 August 1999, after receiving news that a provincial Public Health director had communicated in person the new measures to the municipal directors of his province. The report states that the measures were not communicated in writing, and adds that municipal directors were instructed to relocate immediately within their municipalities any Public Health professionals who requested a "release" (liberación) necessary to obtain a permanent exit permit, be it through a visa lottery, for family reunification, or other means (ibid.). The granting of a release after a waiting period from three to five years would be granted only if the person's behaviour during the period of relocation was considered adequate, and always subject to the discretion of the directors (ibid.). Temporary exits would only be considered in cases where close relatives living abroad were in grave health, or for scientific events of interest to the country (ibid.).

A spokesman for the Foreign Relations Ministry gave the first official confirmation of the new restrictions on 30 September 1999 in Havana (AP 30 Sept. 1999). According to the reported statements of the official, doctors wishing to leave the country would first have to work for three years in the countryside, or five years in the case of specialists (ibid.).

A 14 March 2000 report states that Ministerial Resolution No. 54 regulates the possible migration of employees of the Ministry (CubaNet 15 Mar. 2000). An article published by CubaNet on 3 April 2000 states that the restriction on "qualified health workers" (personal calificado de la salud) refers to "doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, laboratory workers and others" (médicos, enfermeros, fisoterapeutas, laboratoristas y otros). The report states that travel restrictions for health professionals are strict to an absurd degree (tan estricta es la restricción, que a veces llegan al absurdo), and cites the case of a 70-year old retired nurse who was denied under these regulations a liberación from the Public Health Ministry, and thus was unable to obtain from Immigration authorities the permit necessary to visit her daughter living in the United States (ibid.). The report also cites the case of an active nurse who requested a temporary exit and had been unable to advance the necessary paperwork for months; according to the report, the process to obtain a temporary exit permit begins with a letter of request addressed to the Minister, to be followed by requesting an interview, all subject to extensive delays (ibid.). The letter of request must be accompanied by other documentation, including a "Letter of Invitation" (Carta de Invitación), which reportedly costs US$210 (ibid.). Cuban immigration authorities reportedly will not start processing an exit permit request from a health professional until the liberación is granted by the Ministry of Public Health (ibid. 13 Sept. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

Associated Press (AP). 30 September 1999. BC Cycle. "Government Restricts Foreign Travel of Cuban Doctors." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 25 February 2000. "Cuba." [Accessed 19 June 2000]

CubaNet News [Coral Gables, Fla.]. 3 April 2000. Reinaldo Cosano Alén. "Restricción impide viajar a profesionales de la Salud." [Accessed 20 June 2000]

_____. 15 March 2000. "Posponen salida del país a médico cubano." [Accessed 20 June 2000]

_____. 1 October 1999. "Cuba confirma imposición de restricciones a médicos en sus viajes al extranjero." [Accessed 20 June 2000]

_____. 13 September 1999. Wilfredo Cancio Isla. "El gobierno cubano pone trabas a los viajes de médicos y dentistas." [Accessed 20 June 2000]

_____. 11 August 1999. Hector Trujillo Piz. "Nuevas medidas gubernamentales afectan a numerosos profesionales de la salud." [Accessed 20 June 2000]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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