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Cuba welcomed the United States’ decision this week to resume full immigrant visa services at the US embassy in Havana, five years after Washington closed consular services in the capital due to a spate of unexplained health incidents, Al Jazeera reported.

The embassy began processing immigrant visas Wednesday, including permits for Cubans reuniting with family in the US and others chosen through the diversity visa lottery. Before that, many Cubans were forced to travel to third countries to submit US visa applications.

The closure of consular and visa services came in 2017 after embassy staff reported a series of health incidents that US intelligence suggested may be connected to sonic attacks – later dubbed the “Havana Syndrome.”

The closure, combined with then-President Donald Trump’s strengthening of US sanctions against Cuba, heightened tensions between the two countries, which had been easing throughout the Obama administration.

But the Biden administration relaxed some of Trump’s policies and began high-level diplomatic talks with the Cuban government.

The resumption of services coincides with a surge in Cuban migration to the US, fueling calls for President Joe Biden to open more legal channels to Cubans and begin discussions with the Havana government, despite a traditionally tense relationship.

Cuban officials welcomed the reopening as a “necessary and correct step,” but added that the US should go further. They noted that the visa services do not include non-immigrant visas for family visits and academic exchanges.

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