U.S. Treasury Makes It Somewhat Easier To Travel To Cuba

cuba-tourists
Crowds of foreign tourists walk at the historical center of Havana. ( Photo credit YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Mar. 16, 2016: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is making it somewhat easier for U.S. nationals to travel to Cuba.

Ahead of President Obama’s historic visit to the Caribbean nation of March 21st, the departments on Tuesday said it will further change its rules to make it easier for individuals to travel to Cuba.

Americans will now be able to travel to Cuba for “individual people-to-people educational travel” the departments said yesterday.

They will, however, have to:

1: Ensure they “engage in a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba.”

2: Promote “the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and that will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.”

Previously, the general license by the OFAC and BIS authorizing educational travel required such trips to take place under the auspices of an organization that was subject to U.S. jurisdiction and required all travelers to be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring organization.

The departments said the new change is intended to make authorized educational travel to Cuba more accessible and less expensive for U.S. citizens, and will increase opportunities for direct engagement between Cubans and Americans.

TOURIST BAN STILL IN PLACE

However, the statutory prohibition on travel for tourist activities remains in place.

BANKING FRONT

Meanwhile, on the banking front, U.S. banking institutions will now be authorized to process U-turn transactions in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest.

This provision will authorize funds transfers from a bank outside the United States that pass through one or more U.S. financial institutions before being transferred to a bank outside the United States, where neither the originator nor the beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

“Today’s amendments build upon President Obama’s historic actions to improve our country’s relationship with Cuba and its people. These steps not only expand opportunities for economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community, but will also improve the lives of millions of Cuba’s citizens,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.