President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the United States would end its policy of providing residency to Cubans who enter the U.S. without a visa.

The end of the decades-old “wet-foot/dry foot” policy, as it was called, came about after Cuba agreed to accept Cuban nationals who have been ordered to leave the U.S.

Key points:

  • Effective immediately, Cubans who enter the U.S. illegally will be subject to removal under U.S. law unless they qualify for humanitarian relief. Obama said the U.S. would “continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations.”
  • The president also announced the end of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which allowed Cuban medical personnel working or studying outside of Cuba at the direction of the Cuban government to enter the U.S. Obama said “medical personnel will now be eligible to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, consistent with the procedures for all foreign nationals.”

BAL Analysis: The changes described above are consistent with Obama’s broader efforts to open up relations with Cuba. Obama leaves office a week from today, however, and President-elect Donald Trump has signaled that he will take a harder line on Cuba. BAL will continue to follow immigration-related developments in U.S.-Cuba relations and will provide updates on any significant changes.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2017 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact