Government reinstating some visa services at embassy in Cuba

Immigration processing in Havana was suspended after unexplained health problems

Visitors wait at the entrance of the Canadian Embassy in Havana. Some of the embassy's curtailed services will be reinstated starting Aug. 1. (Desmond Boylan/The Associated Press) comments

Government reinstating some visa services at embassy in Cuba

The Canadian Embassy in Havana is reinstating some visa and biometric services after months of pushback from Canadians and Cubans.

Starting Aug. 1, Cuban residents will again be able to get the fingerprints and photos needed for applications done at the embassy, as well as drop off passports and pick up visas at the building.

Early this summer, the government announced it was suspending services like visa and permanent residency processing in Havana due to unexplained illnesses among Canadian and U.S. diplomats dating back to the spring of 2017.

Staffing at the embassy has been skeletal since January, after headaches, dizziness and nausea plagued over a dozen Canadians in Havana. The cause of the mysterious health incidents is still unknown.

This new announcement doesn't restore the full list of curtailed services, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it will make the process quicker, easier and less costly for applicants.

Throughout the year, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said several times his office is working on a solution to the embassy issues.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly," a June statement from the his office read, adding the workers need to be protected.