MIAMI (AP) — At 67, Cuban taxi driver Benito Perez had never been on a plane.
For years, friends in Miami had invited him to visit, but he couldn't afford the flight and didn't want to burden his friends. Getting an exit permit from Cuban authorities and permission from the U.S. government seemed daunting.
In the last year, however, traveling has gotten slightly easier. The Cuban government eliminated the much-detested "white card" needed to leave. And the U.S. government has begun issuing multiple-entry visas good for five years.
Perez is one of thousands of Cubans traveling under the new laws, many for the first time. The number of Cubans receiving U.S. nonimmigrant visas jumped by 82 percent from October 2012 to July 2013 compared to the same period a year before.