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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 outside the island for two years without losing his or her legal residence.

If this period is exceeded and the citizen does not submit an application to extend his/her stay outside the country without losing his/her residence, the citizen is considered as a migrant and automatically loses his/her residence in the country.

In order not to lose their residency in Cuba, Cuban citizens can:

  • Return to Cuban territory within the established 24 months.
  • To request an extension of their stay abroad for a period of more than 24 months, when for justified reasons they are unable to return to the country within that period.
  • Apply for Residence Abroad. This is done when they need to reside outside the country indefinitely due to a marital union, whether formalised or not, with foreign nationals, or due to other family and humanitarian situations.

This request must be made within 24 months of leaving Cuban territory in order not to be considered an emigrant. It must also be expressly requested from the competent authorities (Cuban Consulates or Immigration and Foreigners’ Offices).

Effects of the loss of Cuban residency.

  • It falls under the migration category of migrant.

If a Cuban citizen loses his or her residency, he or she is considered an emigrant. For the Cuban state, an emigrant is a person who travels abroad on private business and remains uninterruptedly for a period of more than 24 months, without the corresponding authorisation. Also if you travel abroad without complying with current immigration regulations.

  • Lose rights in Cuba.

When you lose your residency in Cuba, you lose the rights inherent to it, such as the state’s obligation to provide you with medical assistance, the right to education, and the electoral rights to vote and be voted for. They lose the right to work in Cuba and to benefit from social security.

Their patrimonial rights are also affected as they are unable to keep their property in Cuba, although their relatives have the right to acquire it. If a Cuban acquires the category of emigrant and owns property such as housing or vehicles, he/she loses ownership of them, but with the possibility of inheriting them to family members.

Many Cubans living abroad or emigrants have acquired another citizenship and hold passports of another nationality, but when they wish to travel to Cuba due to passport extension or expiry, they are unable to use it. 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 cause for loss of Cuban citizenship; as a Cuban citizen you must carry 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, must do so with a Cuban passport.

Under Cuban law, no one can renounce Cuban citizenship; there are no procedures or authority to make this possible. The only thing that can be done is to no longer be linked to the country after attaining migrant status.

Opapeleo is your agency for paperwork procedures 100% online or by phone. We are in Washington DC 150 meters away from the Cuban Consulate. We provide services of Extension and Cuban passport renewal, Legalisations, Powers of attorney of all kinds, Authorisation for minors to leave the country, DVT, Cuban visas, top-ups, requests for Cuban certificates, delivery of official documents and all kinds of procedures related to Cuba.


From 20 March 2020 onwards on account of the pandemic, the requirement for entry before 24 months was suspended until further notice. When the regulations are normalised, we will inform you via this channel. This means that no Cuban who left after 20 March 2018 has lost their residency yet.

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