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Cuba Eases Restrictions on Foreign Travel

Passengers wait in line for a flight departing to Cuba at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, September 27, 2012.
The Cuban government says it no longer will require its citizens to apply for an exit visa if they wish to travel overseas.

An announcement in the Communist Party newspaper Granma says Cubans will only have to show a passport and a visa from the country they plan to visit. Cuba's government currently requires a letter of invitation, along with the exit visa, before its people can leave the island.

Havana also is extending the amount of time its citizens are allowed to remain abroad from 11 months to 24 months. The new policies take effect in mid-January 2013.

The Castro government imposed the severe travel restrictions decades ago to prevent an exodus of talented professionals - such as doctors, lawyers and engineers - a phenomenon known as a "brain drain."

Tuesday's announcement, however, hinted that some restrictions will continue.

Citing "the right of the revolutionary state to defend itself" against interference by the U.S. government and its allies, it said Cuba's government will maintain unspecified "measures" to prevent the theft of "human capital created by the revolution."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.