updated 3/24/2006 12:26:19 PM ET 2006-03-24T17:26:19

A group of Cuba migrants repatriated after reaching an abandoned bridge in the Florida Keys under the "wet foot-dry foot" policy began the paperwork Friday to emigrate to the United States for good.

Fourteen people from the original group of 15 who were returned to Cuba in January each received an official U.S. letter they need to seek permission from Cuban authorities to leave the country.

The letters, delivered during a three-hour meeting with American officials here, confirm that members of the group will receive humanitarian visas to emigrate to the United States.

"If everything goes well, we should be able to leave toward the end of next month," said Alexis Gonzalez Blanco, 28.

"I'm really happy, this is the dream I had," said fellow migrant Ernesto Hernandez, 48.

The migrants said the next step in the process was to take the letters to Cuban immigration authorities in their hometown of Matanzas, a coastal city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Havana.

Once Cuban authorities give them their exit permits, they will return to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to get the U.S. emigration visas and can buy their airline tickets to go the United States

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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