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What would losing residency mean for Cubans?

Oct 17 , 2022

While it is generally known that Cubans who do not enter Cuba within 24 months after leaving the country will lose their Cuban residency, it is important to know the practical significance of this loss, as well as its effects and consequences. Residency is defined as the place where a person usually lives and where family and social activities are developed. A citizen with residence in Cuba who leaves the country without declaring that he or she is going to reside abroad indefinitely can only remain abroad for two years without losing his or her legal residence. If this period is exceeded and the citizen does not submit a request to extend his/her stay outside the country without losing his/her residency, he/she is considered an emigrant and automatically loses his/her residency in the country.

To avoid losing residency in Cuba, Cuban citizens may:


  • Return to Cuban territory within the established 24 months.
  • Request to extend their stay abroad for a period of more than 24 months, when (for justified reasons) they cannot return to the country within that period 
  • Apply for Residency Abroad. This is requested when they need to live abroad indefinitely because of a marriage, whether official or not, with foreign nationals, or because of other family or humanitarian situations.

This request must be completed within 24 months after leaving Cuban territory to avoid being considered an emigrant. In addition, it must be expressly requested to the competent authorities (Cuban Consulates or Immigration and Foreigners’ Offices).

Consequences of the loss of Cuban residency


  • Becoming a migrant in the migration category.

If a Cuban citizen loses his/her residency, he/she is considered an emigrant. For the Cuban government, an emigrant is someone who travels abroad for personal reasons and stays abroad for more than 24 months without the corresponding authorisation. Also if he/she travels abroad without complying with the migration regulations in force.

  • Losing rights in Cuba.

When you lose your residency in Cuba, the inherent rights are lost, such as the obligation of the Cuban state to provide you with medical assistance, the right to education, the right to vote and to be able to be voted for. They lose the right to work in Cuba and to enjoy social welfare.

Their patrimonial rights are also compromised as they are unable to keep their property in Cuba, although their relatives have the right to acquire it. Should a Cuban become an emigrant and own property such as a house or vehicles, he or she would lose ownership of them, but with the possibility of inheriting them for his or her family members.

Many Cubans living abroad or emigrants who have gained another citizenship and hold a passport of another nationality, but when they wish to travel to Cuba for renewal or expired passport which cannot be used. If I lost my residency, why do I always have to travel to Cuba with a Cuban passport? For Cuba, the loss of Cuban residency does not imply the loss of Cuban citizenship. Emigration is not a reason for losing Cuban citizenship; being a Cuban citizen you must hold a Cuban passport to travel to the island. The legislation in force in Cuba, as in other countries, is based on the principle of the right to effective citizenship, which is associated with or based on the sovereign decision of states not to recognise citizenship other than their own. For the same reason, those born outside Cuba, children of Cubans who acquire Cuban citizenship later, if they travel to Cuba, they must do so with a Cuban passport.  According to Cuban law, nobody can renounce to Cuban citizenship, and there are no procedures or authorities that would make this possible. The only thing that can be done is to no longer have links with the country once migrant status has been gained. Opapeleo is your procedures agency 100% online or by phone. We are in Washington DC 150 meters from the Cuban Consulate. We provide services for Extension and Cuban Passport Renewal, Legalisations, all kinds of Power of Attorney, Authorisation for minors to leave the country, DVTCuban visas, top-ups, requesting Cuban certificates, delivery of official documents and any kind of procedures related to Cuba. Important!!! Since 20 March 2020, because of the pandemic, the 24-month entry requirement has been suspended until further notice. When the regulations are normalised, we will report it here. This means that no Cuban who left after 20 March 2018 has lost his or her residency yet.

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