May 18, 2011
In 2004, the
Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Department of Treasury issued
regulations to restrict study abroad in Cuba. The rule, effective June 30, 2004,
tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba and established new licensing,
programming, and participant requirements for educational travel activities to
the country. The 2004 regulations resulted in the cancellation of most U.S.
study abroad programs in Cuba and dramatically decreased the number of U.S.
students studying there.
On January 14, 2011 President Obama announced
changes to some categories of non-tourist travel to Cuba, including travel for
academic purposes and people-to-people engagement. The new regulations allow all
students enrolled in degree programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions to
access programs to study abroad in Cuba. The regulations also ease restrictions
on length or time of study, expand opportunities faculty and staff travel to
Cuba, and create a special licensing category for other non-credit bearing
educational opportunities in Cuba.
The regulations were published by the
Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on January 28, 2011.
If you are planning an educational program in Cuba or planning to attend
a program in Cuba, you should be familiar with the rules and regulations posted.
Violations of The Cuban Assets Control Regulations are subject to civil and
criminal penalties and fines.
A general license
permits any accredited institutions of higher education in the United States to
sponsor travel to Cuba for educational activities carrying academic credit
toward a degree, including the following:
- Allows students to
participate in academic activities in Cuba through any sponsoring U.S. academic
institution, not only through the accredited U.S. academic institution at which
the student is pursuing a degree.
- Allows participation in a formal
course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the formal course of
study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward the student's graduate or
- Allows noncommercial academic research in Cuba
specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining a graduate degree.
A student traveling to engage in such transactions must carry a letter on
official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring
U.S. academic institution, stating that the individual is a student currently
enrolled in a graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. academic
institution, and stating that the research in Cuba will be accepted for credit
toward that degree.
- Allows faculty/adjunct/part-time/staff at the
sponsoring institution to accompany students on academic programs to Cuba.
- Allows any individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at the
sponsoring U.S. academic institution to teach at a Cuban institution provided
that the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban
institution and that the duration of the teaching is at least 10 weeks. Teachers
are required to carry a letter from the sponsoring institution.
regulations specify that U.S. students/faculty/staff participating the
activities listed above will be required to carry letters "stating that the
Cuba-related travel is part of a structured educational program of the
sponsoring U.S. academic institution, and stating that the individual is a
member of the faculty or staff of that institution or is a student currently
enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S.
academic institution and that the study in Cuba will be accepted for credit
toward that degree."
The general license also allows full-time
professionals conducting professional research to travel to Cuba, attend certain
international professional organization meetings or conferences in Cuba, and
attend certain professional meetings related to the provision of
telecommunications services under a general license. The regulations specify
that research requires a full work schedule of noncommercial, academic research
that has a substantial likelihood of public dissemination and is in the
traveler's professional area.
For persons satisfying all criteria and
conditions in a general license, no further permission from OFAC is required to
engage in transactions authorized by that general license.
Specific licenses may be available to institutions,
organizations, and individuals for educational, people-to-people, and
professional travel that does not qualify under a general license. Types of
specific licenses available include: individuals traveling for academic purposes
but not under the auspices of an accredited U.S. graduate or undergraduate
degree-granting institution; educational exchanges not involving academic credit
pursuant to a degree; academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to
Cuba or global issues involving Cuba; professional research; and to attend
international professional meetings.
A written application in letter
format with relevant supporting documentation must be made to OFAC to obtain a
specific license. A specific license applicant must wait for OFAC to issue the
license prior to engaging in travel-related transactions as stated
For any questions about whether a certain travel-related
activity to Cuba qualifies under a general license, please contact OFAC
information for the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assests
Control can be found on their Web site.
- Allows a general license category
for a U.S. person to send remittances (up to $500 per quarter) to nonfamily
members in Cuba.
- Under a general license, allows a sponsoring U.S.
academic institution to pay the stipend or salary of a Cuban scholar to teach or
engage in other scholarly activity.
- Under a general license, allows a
sponsoring institution to open a bank account in Cuba to facilitate
- Allows all U.S. international airports to apply to
provide services to licensed airplane charters.
- Allows organizations to
apply for specific licenses for educational exchanges not involving academic
- Students can participate in a
program that must be for academic credit but does not need to be for a minimum
length of time.
- Any student enrolled in a degree program at an
accredited academic institution may participate in any credit-bearing academic
program abroad hosted by any sponsoring institution.
- Any faculty or
staff at a sponsoring academic institutionis eligible to lead programs or
accompany students on such programs to Cuba.
- Individuals studying or
working in an academic capacity in Cuba either through their home institution or
through a Cuban institution will be required to carry a letter stating that they
are there for academic purposes from that respective institution.
- Faculty wishing to teach at a Cuban academic institution can do so as long
as the duration is no shorter than 10 weeks and they are carrying a letter from
the sponsoring U.S. academic institution.
- These provisions do not apply
to tourist activities.
- The health insurance requirement to enter Cuba
will still stand.
- The guidelines recommend applicants to submit an
application to OFAC no later than 45 days prior to the proposed date of