The biggest impact will be that it will streamline the process of traveling abroad for Cubans and should make it somewhat cheaper, said Tessie Aral, president of ABC Charters, which offers charter service from Miami and Tampa to Cuba.
Under the new rules, Cubans will be able to stay 24 months outside the country, instead of the current 11 months, and will be able to request extensions of up to two years without losing their property and other citizenship rights in Cuba. After that, according to the regulations, a Cuban who doesnt return will be considered to have emigrated.
Each month Cubans prolong their visits now, they have to pay a $150 fee.
Miami Cubans who have been hosting their visiting relatives and paying the monthly fees on their behalf at the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington jokingly refer to the charge as renting the abuelitas (grandmothers).
Theyre modernizing the process on the Cuban end, Aral said.
But she doesnt think making it easier to leave will result in many more Cubans taking charter flights to visit the United States.
The person still has to have a visa from the United States that is unless the U.S. government plans to greatly augment the number of visas it gives out, she said.
Already, there are long wait times at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana for Cubans who request visas to visit their families in the United States.
After Oropesas 67-year-old mother returned to Cuba after visiting her earlier this year, she immediately applied for a visa for her next trip. Her visa interview at the U.S. Interests Section hasnt been scheduled until 2015, said Oropesa.
Still, Vicente Rodríguez, a Hialeah businessman and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Hialeah, said the announcement could have the effect of raising expectations and the intent might be to try to keep the Cuban populace in line. It creates hope in the people. When you have hope, you behave well, you dont cause problems.
Many were still digesting the massive Gaceta document Wednesday, but among noteworthy changes it outlined were:
• A legal way for Cubans who live aboard and lost their residency to regain it such returns have been technically illegal, though officials have turned a blind eye to them. Applicants must submit documents showing how they emigrated and why they want to return, pay all consular fees owed and name someone in Cuba who will sustain them until they can find housing and jobs. They will get a reply within 90 days.
Analysts say this may be an effort to lure back some retirees.
• Twelve-month residency permits for foreigners who own or rent property on the island. They can be extended for an apparently unlimited number of periods. The measure appears designed to facilitate the sale or rental of the several thousand resort condo units that Cuba is building or planning most around golf courses and yacht clubs.
El Nuevo Herald reporters Melissa Sanchez and Juan Carlos Chávez contributed to this report.