Travel restrictions

Biden eases Cuba travel restrictions: What travelers need to know

NOTFive years ago, the Trump administration implemented policies that severely restricted travel between the United States and Cuba. On Monday, the Biden administration decided to roll back some of those measures and make travel between the two countries a little easier again.

The US State Department released a statement that among new measures the Biden administration will put in place will be more flights between the US and Cuba, expanding service beyond Havana. But the biggest change for future vacationers? Group visits between people and educational trips will be reinstated. The Biden administration has said it will also allow some business travel related to professional meetings and research.

The administration did not go so far as to approve individual person-to-person travel, a policy that was implemented by President Obama that allowed individual travelers to visit Cuba and participate in cultural and educational exchanges. But the fact that group person-to-person travel to Cuba will be allowed again means that some US government-licensed tour operators and travel agencies (such as InsightCuba, Intrepid Travel and G Adventures) will get the green light to relaunch organized group travel from the states United in Cuba. They will emphasize targeted cultural and educational interactions with the Cuban people (hence the term “person-to-person” travel).

“With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and greater economic opportunity so they can lead successful lives at home,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. . “We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, respect the fundamental freedoms of the Cuban people, and allow the Cuban people to determine their own future.

In addition to easing travel restrictions, the U.S. government will remove the current $1,000 per quarter limit on family remittances (money that is sent to family members in Cuba from the United States) and allow non-family remittances, which can support independent people. Cuban entrepreneurs. Former President Donald Trump had tightened sanctions against Cuba, including the cancellation of remittance authorizations.

These measures, in addition to the pandemic, have contributed to an economic crisis in Cuba, where people are suffering from basic commodity shortages, power outages and rationing, the Associated Press reported. The economic situation led thousands of people to demonstrate across Cuba on July 11, 2021, the largest such protests on the island in decades.

The Biden administration has said it will also restore Cuba’s parole program for family reunification, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications, and increase consular services and visa processing in Havana, which have resumed May 3.

As for when the new policies will take effect, the Biden administration said it was “working quickly” to put those changes into effect.

Associated Press contributed reporting.

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