Former Cuban political prisoners and relatives living in Spain will be allowed to come to the United States swiftly under a special parole program, a senior State Department official announced Monday.
The ex-prisoners' applications for entry will be processed on a case-by-case basis but are expected to take an average of about one month, the official said.
Most of the 36 recently released prisoners and scores of relatives in Spain want to move to the United States, but normal U.S. migration procedures bar that because they already have a haven in Spain.
The Homeland Security and State Departments therefore agreed to allow them entry under the Significant Public Benefit Parole (SPBP) Program, said the official, who under State Department rules could not be identified or quoted directly.
SPBP has been used in the past to allow U.S. entry to people such as Colombian labor activists and Iraqis who fear for their lives, the official told El Nuevo Herald in a phone briefing from Washington.
Consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid have reached out to many of the former political prisoners to inform them of the program's eligibility and other requirements, the official said.
At least one application already is being processed and several other former political prisoners will be interviewed this week, he added. SPBP allows the new arrivals to quickly receive work permits and eventually residency.
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