White House Eases Cuba Restrictions for Travel and Remittances

White House Cuba Restrictions

White House Eases Cuba Restrictions for Travel and Remittances

The United States announced today a series of steps to revise its policy toward Cuba, including easing some restrictions on family remittances and travel to the island. It will also be easier for Cubans to visit the U.S. as more visas will be processed.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the measures would “support the Cuban people, providing them additional tools to pursue a life free from Cuban government oppression and to seek greater economic opportunities.”

The State Department said the United States would lift the cap on family remittances, previously set to $1,000 per quarter, and authorize donative remittances to non-family members.

But it made clear that the United States would not remove entities from the Cuba Restricted List, a State Department list of Cuban government- and military-aligned companies with whom U.S. firms and citizens are barred from doing business.

The United States will use “electronic payment processors” for remittances to avoid funds going directly to the Cuban government, an official said, adding that the United States had already engaged with the Cuban government “about establishing a civilian processor for this.”

There’s also a plan to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program and further increase consular services and visa processing, making it possible for more Cubans to join their families in the United States via regular migration channels. Washington will aim to issue 20,000 immigrant visas a year.

The White House will also expand authorized travel to Cuba, allowing scheduled and charter flights to use airports other than Havana, according to the State Department. It will also reinstate some categories of group educational travel, as well as certain travel related to professional meetings and research. However, there will be less categories than back in 2016. Cuba opened its borders to tourism late last year, but most Americans still won’t be able to travel to Cuba.

“With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home,” the White House statement says.

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