March 16 (UPI) -- The United States will reduce the B2 tourist visa validity for Cuban nationals to three months with a single entry from five years of multiple trips, the State Department announced.
The B2 visa category includes tourism, family visits, medical treatment and similar travel purposes. Besides visiting relatives, Cubans have also used the visas to buy supplies for their businesses.
"U.S. immigration law requires that U.S. visa fees and validity periods be reciprocal, insofar as practicable, with the treatment accorded to U.S. citizens," the State Department said in a news release announcing the move.
U.S. citizen tourists to Cuba are currently allowed a single entry for a stay of up to two months, with a possible 30-day extension to three months total, for $50.
Before the the validity change, which is effective Monday, the State Department allowed Cuban B2 applicants a 60-month, multiple-entry visa for $160.
Existing five-year multiple entry B2 visas remain valid until the expiration date.
"When a country grants a visa or tourist card to US citizens for a certain period, we will do the same for the citizens of that country who receive a U.S. visa," Mara Tekach, the U.S. embassy's charge d'affaires, said in a video posted on Facebook.
No other visa categories involving Cuban nationals are being changed, including those for business trips or events, or for academic or language studies, according to the State Department.
Besides allowing frequent trips to Miami, they were allowed to enter Latin American countries, including Mexico, to enter automatically with the visa.
In September 2017, the State Department announced it was withdrawing more than half its embassy staff from Cuba because of "specific attacks" that sickened at least 21 U.S. embassy employees.
With reduced staff, visas were not being issued at the embassy, ProPublica reported in March 2018. Cubans seeking to visit or immigrate to the United States needed to go to a third-party country to submit requests at U.S. consulates there.
In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced limitations on tourism and trade to the island.