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Inviting Cuban Friends to Canada

When inviting a Cuban friend to visit Canada, the problem typically is not with Cuba's bureaucracy, but rather with the immigration departments of other countries. Canada's Immigration Dept., for example, often seems to think that all Cubans want to "defect." That's perhaps the biggest hurdle. Cubans who are travelling on official business of their organization (i.e., a university professor attending a conference in Canada) tend to have much less difficulty.

On the Cuban end, they do have to complete no small amount of paperwork and obtain an exit visa. The specific details are published on Cuba's Ottawa Embassy website ( The relevant portion is copied below (note that this local copy may not be updated as frequently as the Embassy website - please consult the source for accuracy:


  1. The first step is to issue a LETTER OF INVITATION, a legal document in which the person who issues the invitation makes a commitment to afford all the expenses of the invited person in Canada (trip and stay). This document can be obtined at any of our Consulates or if it was already done before a Public Notary, it has to be legalized. In both cases, charges are 224.00 CAD. The Cuban Consulate will send the Letter to Cuba.
  2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba will receive the document and legalize it before sending it to Consultoría Juridica Internacional, the institution that will then contact the invited person to continue the process.
  3. The whole process will take approximately 3 months. The Letter of Invitation is valid for one year, to allow the person to choose the appropriate moment to travel.
  4. The invited person has to be older that 18 years old.

The letter of invitation can be viewed, downloaded, or printed printed in pdf form here.

On the Canadian end, there are other hoops to jump through. The information below is reproduced from the website of the Canadian Embassy in Cuba:

To obtain a visitor visa, all applicants must show at the time of the interview that they are bona fide visitors to Canada and must show ties to their country of residence sufficient to satisfy the visa officer that they intend to return there.

In nearly all cases, there is a waiting period of at least 5 working days before the visa can be issued. Depending on the case, the waiting period may be longer. (Please note that processing time often depends on nationality. The times given are for Cuban nationals; those for nationals of other countries may vary.)

A valid visitor visa is not a guarantee of entry into Canada. Because circumstances may change between the issuance of the visa and your arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry, it is at the port of Entry that an immigration officer will decide if you still meet the requirements for admission when you arrive. If so, he or she will determine the length of stay to be granted (usually six months). Remember that if you plan to visit the United States during your stay with the intention of returning to Canada, you should advise the officer at the Port of Entry in order that sufficient time can be granted to cover the whole period.

How to Apply for a Temporary Resident (Visitor) Visa:

You must submit the following:
  • Official Application form and Havana Supplementary form fully completed.
  • A valid passport or travel document.
  • Old passports bearing proof of previous travel abroad, if applicable.
  • Two recent passport-size photos of each traveller (with the traveller's name written on the back).
  • Flight reservations, tickets or travel itinerary.
  • Letter from employer indicating length of service, salary and period given for vacations, if applicable.
  • Proof of financial situation, salary receipts, deeds on properties, etc. Applicants must submit original documents and a set of copies.
  • If you are going to Canada to visit friends or relatives, you will need a fax or letter of invitation from Canada providing details of the purpose of the invitation. Such an invitation must include, at a minimum, the full name, contact details, immigration status, and signature of the person inviting you, as well as a letter from his/her employer stating salary and length of service or bank statement of savings.
  • If you are going to Canada to study for six months or less you must submit a letter of acceptance from the institution in Canada.
  • If you are under the age of 16 and travelling alone or with only one parent, you will require a notarized authorization to travel from the non-accompanying parent(s).
  • Proof of payment, unless you are fee exempt.
  • Photocopies of the birth certificates or national ID cards of you children in Cuba, whether or not they are travelling.
We require only one application per family unit. Dependent children 18 and older should complete and sign their own application form. Dependent children 16 and older should be available for interview.

At your interview -- if you have been told that you need an interview -- you must satisfy the visa officer that you meet the requirements of the Canadian Immigration Act and Regulations, and that you will be in Canada for a temporary stay and then return to your country.


This information, and other supplementary info available on the websites linked above, are about all we can offer in terms of advice.... that and start ASAP!

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