Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
February 9, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary of the Treasury
Dear Secretary Clinton and Secretary Geithner,
We write to express our strong support for President Obama's recent announcement easing travel restrictions for university-based educational travel, religious travel, and "people to people" educational travel to
, as well as easing restrictions on certain remittances and other reforms. We are pleased to see this positive step and believe that enhancing contact between Cuba U.S. citizens and the Cubans is in the interest of both the and Cuban people. United States
On January 28th, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued final regulations to implement the President's directive. We have been in touch with constituencies potentially affected by the new regulations; they are pleased with the final regulations and look forward enthusiastically to being able to organize educational, religious, and people to people trips. They look forward to the development of internal guidelines and the actual implementation of the regulations.
In our view, the internal guidelines implementing the regulations should be flexible and contribute to real increases in purposeful educational, academic, and religious travel to
; there should not be excessive restrictions or undue regulatory burdens that make travel more difficult. This time next year, the measure of success should be the size of the increase in purposeful religious, educational, and cultural travel. We hope these principles will guide the implementation of the regulations. We offer the following specific comments. Cuba
We are very pleased to see the rules providing a general license to accredited institutions of higher education to sponsor travel to
for for-credit course work. We believe that academic and student travel to Cuba Cuba broadens minds and stimulates dialogue with Cubans, and there are high levels of interest in sponsoring student study trips to . In many ways, these are the more straightforward changes to implement, and the opportunity to utilize general licenses reduces the regulatory burden and provides much needed flexibility. As OFAC looks toward formalizing guidelines for the implementation of the educational travel reforms, we wish to raise a potential clarification. Many educational institutions arrange study abroad programs through established third party providers of educational travel. We hope that the licensing process permits these kinds of contractual relationships to work, so that travel programs can expand easily. Cuba
We support the rules providing a general license for religious organizations to take their members and staff to
for religious activities. As we are sure you are aware, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor's 2010 International Religious Freedom Report noted that, though significant restrictions remain in place, many religious groups in Cuba reported improvements in religious freedom and "many religious organizations reported a significant rise in membership as well as a revival in interest in religion..." The rapid growth among Cuban churches represents a new opportunity for Cuba churches and ecumenical institutions to relate to and support the Cuban people. As such, the reforms providing both a general license for U.S. U.S. religious organizations to undertake religious activity in as well as provide unlimited remittances in support of religious activities to religious organization on the island are timely. There will likely be a significant increase in travel that supports religious communities and groups in Cuba , and this would be very positive. Cuba
In restoring religious travel under a general license, we hope the Administration does so without also restoring some of the historical hurdles that have been associated with these licenses. We feel strongly that the general licenses should be available to national denominational offices and headquarters, along with individual congregations. National church bodies often have extensive contacts, relationships, and mission engagement with churches in
and the Cuban people. Cuba
Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles on religious travel by national church bodies and ecumenical organizations could diminish the ability for churches to carry out their core missions and can be problematic with respect to maintaining relationships with their counterpart churches in
Allowing national religious organizations to utilize general licenses for appropriate activities would appear on its face consistent with the overall goal of the President's reforms and would avoid the problems in the previous regulations which unnecessarily limited religious travel, and sometimes discriminated among religious groups.
People to People Programs
In addition to establishing general licenses for religious and university-based travel educational travel, the new regulations permit specific licenses for non-credit educational exchanges carried out by organizations that sponsor and organize "people to people" programs. Early last year, the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs' Public Diplomacy: Strengthening U.S. Engagement with the World presentation indicated that the Department is seeking to "expand public diplomacy platforms and venues for direct engagement with foreign audiences to present a new face to foreign publics" and to "reinvigorate cultural programming to drive engagement and collaboration." For too long, U.S.-Cuba policy has resembled a hodgepodge of one-off approaches and anachronistic policies lacking effectiveness.
Reforming U.S.-Cuba policy to return to people to people exchanges clearly fits within the above goal and it is encouraging to see strategies that are known to work in other parts of the world readily applied to
. For example, even while facing the diplomatic challenges related to the Cold War, the Cuba allowed exchanges of students, scientists, cultural figures, and scholars with Communist countries. U.S.
We strongly believe that the specific licenses granted for this kind of travel should be granted to a broad range of institutions with educational missions and/or a track record of taking groups to other countries for educational purposes. We urge OFAC to have as expansive a view as practicable with regard to who qualifies for a specific license under the restored people to people category for non-degree granting institutions. This is where the Administration can truly broaden people to people interactions by starting from a presumption that, in the absence of clear evidence that the proposal is related to tourism activities, a license should be granted. Alternatively, with the devil in the details, the President's laudable efforts to further a policy of engagement between the Cuban people and
citizens could be hobbled by a negative predisposition toward people to people programs seeking approval. U.S.
Further, we urge that the specific licenses are granted to each institution for multiple trips that fall within the people to people rubric. Similar language in effect from 1999 through 2003 was interpreted to allow multiple trip specific licenses; re-instating this interpretation with appropriate recordkeeping requirements would ensure that people to people travel to
is expanded in a straightforward fashion. Cuba
Anecdotal reports from the island have indicated that the Cuban people, island-wide, are enjoying the benefits of the President's lifting restrictions on Cuban American travel and remittances. As the economic realities in
Cuba force the government to embrace an entrepreneurial approach and an expansion of the private sector, the President's reforms providing a general license for U.S. citizens to send remittances to non-family members in to support private economic activity is equally well-timed. There is some likelihood that increased resources as provided by this general license will provide both an increase in the quality of life of Cubans as well as provide an opportunity to take full advantage of the new economic opportunities. This could well make it difficult for the Cuban government to roll them back in the future — to the long term benefit of the Cuban people. Cuba
Once again, we want to express our strong support for the President's directive and for the regulations that have been issued. We believe that expanding purposeful travel to
Cuba by citizens and engagement with the Cuban people, without excess regulation, is a very important and positive step. We share your concern about the state of human rights in U.S. and applaud your consistent calls for the Cuban government to grant greater liberties to the Cuban people. In directing Cabinet agencies to issue new regulations seeking to increase liberties to Cuba citizens, the President is leading by example. It is our hope that Congress will eventually do the same. U.S.
We hope those involved in developing and consulting on the internal guidelines implementing the regulations will take these views into account. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you directly on these matters.
Jeff Flake, Member of Congress
James P. McGovern, Member of Congress
Jason Chaffetz, Member of Congress
Janice D. Schakowsk, Member of Congress
Jo Ann Emerson, Member of Congress
Donna F. Edwards, Member of Congress
Ron Paul, Member of Congress
Sam Farr, Member of Congress
Judy Biggert, Member of Congress
Rosa DeLau, Member of Congress ro
Mr. Daniel Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President, National Security Council
Mr. Adam Szubin, Director, Office of Foreign Asset Control
Mr. Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for
Western Hemisphere Affairs
Ms. Roberta Jacobsen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Ms. Julissa Reynoso, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Mr. Peter M. Brennan, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs
NAFSA Practice Advisory New Regulations on Academic Travel to
As Issued by The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) http://www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/default.aspx?id=24935 Cuba
February 9, 2011
State University-Altoona Reinig, Pennsylvania
Below are highlights of the new regulations to
issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC will be issuing additional guidelines within the coming weeks. Cuba
Highlights of New Regulations
Allows accredited U.S. graduate or undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions, by specific license, to sponsor or co-sponsor academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba, and it allows faculty, staff and students of such institutions to attend those events.
U.S. institutions of higher education to sponsor travel to for course work for academic credit under a general license. Cuba
Regulations specify that students/ faculty/ staff participating on such programs 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 degree1.
Students, faculty and staff (including but not limited to adjunct faculty and part-time staff)
Allows students to participate in academic activities in
Cuba through any sponsoring U.S. academic institution, not only through the accredited academic at which the student is pursuing a degree. U.S.
Allows participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the formal course of study in
will be accepted for credit toward the student’s graduate or undergraduate degree. Cuba
Noncommercial academic research in
Cuba specifically related to 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. Cuba
Allows faculty/adjunct/part-time/staff at the sponsoring institution to accompany students on academic programs to
Allows any individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at the sponsoring
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. U.S.
Allows a general license category for an
U.S. person to send remittances (up to $500 per quarter) to non-family members in . Cuba
Allows a sponsoring
academic institution to pay the stipend or salary of a Cuban scholar to teach or engage in other scholarly activity. U.S.
Allows a sponsoring institution to open a bank account in
to facilitate transactions. Cuba
international airports to apply to provide services to licensed airplane charters. U.S.
Allows organizations to apply for specific licenses for educational exchanges not involving academic credit.
Students can participate on 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 on any credit bearing academic program abroad hosted by any sponsoring institution.
Any faculty or staff at a sponsoring academic institution is eligible to lead programs or accompany students on such programs to
Individuals studying or working in an academic capacity in
either through their home institution or through a Cuban institution will be required to carry a letter stating that there are there for academic purposes from that respective institution Cuba
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
academic institution. U.S.
These provisions do not apply to tourist activities.
The health insurance requirement to enter
will still stand. Cuba
U.S. Department of the Treasury Cuban Assets Control Regulations (Jan. 25, 2011): http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/documents/fr76_5072.pdf
White House Press Release: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/14/reaching-out-cuban-people
U.S. Department of the Treasury Resources: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/cuba.aspx
Cuba Academic Alliance Website: http://www.cubaacademicalliance.org/
To receive up-to-date notifications from OFAC, sign up here http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx
Friday, February 11, 2011
February 11, 2011
The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary of the Treasury
Dear Mr. Secretary:
U.S. ecumenical and denominational organizations in the United States, we recently expressed to President Barack Obama and publicly our profound joy for the Executive Order issued by the President providing for general licenses for religious travel to Cuba and for remittances to religious institutions in in support of religious activities. Cuba
We also welcome with appreciation the new OFAC “Cuban Assets Control Regulations” issued to implement the Executive Order, in particular the clear declaration that general licenses will be provided for all “religious organizations located in the
, including members and staff of such organizations.” United States
We understand that OFAC is currently developing more detailed “Guidelines” for the interpretation of these regulations. For these regulations to be viewed by the U.S. churches as meeting the needs of U.S. religious institutions and of our partner churches in Cuba, as well to constitute an advance over the restrictive condition we have endured since 2005, the guidelines must fully embody and facilitate the goal of encouraging travel by people of faith in the United States to support their sisters and brothers of faith in Cuba. The guidelines should be written so as to lead to a substantial increase in the number of religious delegations that are able to travel to
under the general license. This is the only way to fulfill the spirit and purpose of the Executive order. Cuba
Accordingly, we write to ask for your reassurance that under the guidelines:
• All religious organizations will be treated in the same way, and all qualify under the general license. Local parishes and congregations, national, regional and state denominational bodies, and religious orders and ecumenical organizations, must all be treated equally. The guidelines should neither privilege nor discriminate against local, regional and national levels of religious organization. The differential treatment under the regulations promulgated in 2005 was discriminatory, unduly restrictive, and potentially unconstitutional in its impact. It should be completely eliminated, as the new regulations clearly indicate by the revised language in 515.566 (a) and (b).
• All genuine members of these religious institutions -- clergy, staff, parishioners, congregants and any other members as recognized in good faith by the institutions themselves -- will be eligible to participate in delegations sponsored by the institutions of which they are a part. Religious organizations will ensure that those who participate are members and staff. But OFAC should not require presubmission or pre-approval of the names of group participants.
• The general license will be clear that religious delegations must engage in a full time program of religious activities; it may require delegations to keep records to show their compliance with this regulation, if asked. But the license will not require pre-approval by OFAC of scheduled activities.
• The general license will not limit the number of trips which any given religious organization may take in a year, nor how many participants may go on a trip. Each denominational and ecumenical organization has the need and opportunity to make numerous trips annually in order to accompany, support and engage in vital fellowship with their partner churches and religious organizations in
. As long as religious organizations keep records of participants and activities, so that OFAC can verify compliance, there should be no restrictions on the size or frequency of trips for any religious organization. Cuba
• The new regulations concerning religious remittances (515.570c) permit contributions “to religious organizations in
in support of religious activities” under general license. Specific license applications for such contributions are no longer required. We also understand that the $500 per quarter limit for remittances to individuals does not apply to these contributions. The remittances should be able to be broadly used for any religiously-related activity, as determined between the Cuba and Cuban institutions involved. Furthermore, any U.S. U.S. religious organization at the local, state, regional or national level should be able to send such remittances to any religious organization at the local, state, regional or national level without pre-authorization, although record keeping can be required. Cuba
None of these elements should be controversial and all are reasonable and obvious applications of the Executive Order and Regulations. We are writing today confident in the President’s intent to fully open up religious travel to
and we welcome your assurances regarding these matters. Cuba
The Reverend John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO
Church World Service
Mr. Johnny Alicea-Baez
Director of Global
Reformed Church in
Mr. Alexander D. Baumgarten
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church
The Reverend Paula Clayton Dempsey
Minister for Partnership Relations
Mr. Thomas Kemper
General Board of Global Ministries
Mr. Peter Vander Meulen
Coordinator, Office of Social Justice
Christian Reformed Church
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
Director, Office of Public Witness
Presbyterian Church (
The Reverend Dr. Michael Kinnamon
National Council of Churches of Christ in the
The Reverend Dr. José Norat-Rodríguez
Area Director, Iberoamerica and the
American Baptist Churches of the
The Reverend Felix Ortiz
Area Executive for Latin America and the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United
Church of Christ
The Reverend Dr. Walter Parrish III
Progressive National Baptist Convention
The Reverend Dr. Raquel Rodriguez
Director for the Latin America/Caribbean Desk
Mr. Daniel Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President, NSC
Mr. Adam Szubin, Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control
Mr. Peter M. Brennan, Coordinator, Cuban Affairs, Department of State
Mr. Daniel P. Erikson, Senior Advisor,
Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State
Mr. Joshua DuBois, Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Mr. Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
Please respond to Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service,
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 700, New York, NY10115, email: Mshupack@churchworldservice.org
Monday, February 7, 2011
RABINOWITZ, BOUDIN, STANDARD, KRINSKY & LIEBERMAN, P.C.
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
45 BROADWAY, SUITE 1700
NEW YORK, NY 10006-3791
TELEPHONE (212) 254-1111
212 254 1111 Ext. 102
February 3, 2011
Re: Amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations – January 28, 2011
At the request of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, we provide this preliminary
analysis of the Obama Administration’s new amendments to the U.S.’s embargo regulations, the
Cuban Assets Control Regulations, published in the Federal Register on January 28, 2011.
The Obama Administration is working on potentially important Guidelines to the
amendments, which it hopes to issue within the next two weeks or so. We will supplement this
memorandum after the Guidelines are issued.
The new amendments principally concern:
Educational activities in Cuba for U.S. college and university students (I, p. 3
Academic seminars, conferences and workshops in Cuba sponsored or cosponsored
by U.S. colleges and universities (I, p. 7 below)
“People-to-people” educational exchanges in Cuba (II, p. 8 below);
Clinics and workshops in Cuba (III, p. 9 below);
Travel for religious activities in Cuba (IV, p. 10 below);
Remittances to religious organizations in Cuba (IV, p. 11 below);
Free-lance journalism projects in Cuba (V, p. 12 below);
Remittances to Cuban nationals in addition to family relatives (VI, p. 12 below);
Cuban nationals permanently resident in third-countries (VII, p. 13 below).
The January 28, 2011 amendments may be found on the website of the U.S. Treasury
Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations. Go to http://www.treas.gov/ofac.
OFAC’s Forthcoming “Guidelines”
The Obama Administration intends to issue Guidelines to the new amendments within the
next two weeks or so. The Guidelines are likely to determine in important respects whether the
amendments are applied broadly or narrowly. This is particularly so for the amendments
concerning “people-to-people” educational exchanges, clinics and workshops, and religious
activities. Similarly, and also critically, the Guidelines can establish either a streamlined or a
cumbersome application process.
In the following analysis, we flag with underlines some of the more important issues that
the Obama Administration may address in formulating the Guidelines. We would expect that
those in favor of expanded travel to Cuba, and perhaps those opposed, will attempt to engage the
Administration over those issues, among others.
In addition to making substantive policy decisions on the scope of several provisions, the
Obama Administration will have to take into account OFAC’s severely limited staffing. A
bottleneck, severely limiting the efficacy of the new amendments, would be created were the
Guidelines to establish an elaborate application process for the issuance of specific licenses, or
limit specific licenses in their duration or frequency of use.
The United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”)
administers the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”), with guidance from the State
Department and, on occasion, from the National Security Council and the White House as well.
OFAC will draft and issue the Guidelines.
The January 28 amendments include both new “general licenses” and new provisions
authorizing OFAC to issue “specific licenses.” “General licenses” are provisions in the CACR
that, in and of themselves, authorize the described activity. “Specific licenses,” in contrast, are
issued by OFAC on application, and authorize the applicant to engage in the activity described in
Among the major changes made by the January 28 amendments are the following:
Adoption of a general license authorizing U.S. colleges and universities to have their
students engage in educational activities in Cuba, with no minimum length of the
student’s stay in Cuba.
o Previously, U.S. colleges and universities were required to apply for specific
licenses, and approval was given only for programs involving a minimum stay
in Cuba of ten weeks;
Addition of a provision authorizing OFAC to grant specific licenses to U.S. colleges
and universities to sponsor or co-sponsor academic seminars, conferences and
workshops in Cuba, and for their faculty and students to participate in the licensed
Restoration of a provision authorizing OFAC to grant specific licenses to organize
and participate in “people-to-people” educational exchanges in Cuba;
Restoration of a provision authorizing OFAC to grant specific licenses to organize
and participate in “clinics” and “workshops” in Cuba;
Adoption of a general license authorizing “religious organizations” and its members
and staff to engage in “religious activities” in Cuba;
Adoption of a general license authorizing remittances to “religious organizations” in
Adoption of a general license authorizing remittances up to $500 every three months
to any Cuban “national,” and a supplemental provision authorizing OFAC to issue
specific licenses to remit additional sums to support the development of private
I. U.S. College and University Educational Activities
1. General License for U.S. College and University Educational Activities -§ 515.565(a)
The six categories of educational activities authorized by general license:
The amendments add a general license authorizing colleges and universities, and their
students and faculty, to carry on the same six categories of educational activities that had been
previously authorized by specific licenses. The authorized activities are:
(1) Structured educational programs in Cuba that are part of a course offered for credit by
an accredited U.S. undergraduate and graduate degree-granting academic institution
(hereafter “ U.S. college or university”);
(2) Academic research specifically related to Cuba for the purpose of obtaining a
graduate degree at a U.S. university, provided that the research in Cuba will be
accepted for credit toward that degree;
(3) Formal courses of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided that the formal
course of study will be accepted for credit towards the student’s undergraduate or
(4) Teaching at a Cuban academic institution, provided the teacher is regularly employed
in a teaching capacity at a U.S. college or university and will teach at the Cuban
academic institution for a period of no less than 10 weeks;
(5) A Cuban “scholar” teaching or engaging in other scholarly activity at a U.S. college
or university, and payment of a stipend or salary to the scholar. Note that a visa must
still be granted by the State Department;
(6) The organization and preparation of the above five activities by faculty or staff
(including adjunct faculty and part-time staff) of the U.S. college or university.
Structured Educational Programs in Cuba, and Formal Courses of Study at Cuban
The amendments eliminate the 10-week minimum duration requirement imposed by the
Bush Administration on two categories of educational activities: structured educational programs
in Cuba that are part of a course offered for credit by a U.S. college or university, and formal
courses of study at a Cuban academic institution.
The general license imposes no requirements at all as to the length of stay in Cuba for
these two categories.
The general license requires that, with respect to these two categories of educational
activities, the student’s work in Cuba must be accepted by the U.S. college or university at which
the student is enrolled for credit toward his or her undergraduate or graduate degree.
The “credit” requirement may limit the ability of some U.S. academic institutions, on
account of their own constraints, to organize short-term programs in Cuba under the general
license. However, OFAC has the authority to grant specific licenses authorizing a U.S. college
or university’s educational program even if credit is not earned. It remains to be seen whether
OFAC will exercise that authority, and in what circumstances.
In contrast to the Obama Administration’s “credit” requirement, the Clinton-era
provision, until later amended, authorized colleges and universities to organize structured
educational programs in Cuba for their students without any requirement that the student receive
credit; the program in Cuba only had to be part of a “course” offered by the U.S. college or
A student’s participation in another U.S. college or university’s program:
The general license permits a student enrolled at one U.S. college or university to
participate in educational activities in Cuba through another U.S. college or university, provided
that the student will receive credit at his or her own college or university. The Bush
Administration prohibited this practice.
In the case of structured educational programs in Cuba, the general license imposes a
double credit requirement when a student at one college or university is participating in a
program sponsored by another college or university. As noted, the student must receive credit
toward his or her degree at the student’s own institution. In addition, the program must be part
of a course offered at the second institution for credit to its own students.
In a highly questionable development, OFAC recently construed specific licenses for
graduate research to authorize only research for the student’s masters or doctoral thesis. We see
no basis for this limitation in the text of the newly adopted general license, and would consider
OFAC’s imposition of such a limitation on the general license to be legally untenable.
Adjunct faculty and part-time staff:
The general license allows a U.S. college or university to use adjunct faculty or part-time
staff to organize and run structured educational programs in Cuba, and assist students enrolled in
formal courses of study at Cuban academic institutions. The Bush Administration required that
U.S. colleges and universities utilize only “full-time permanent employees.”
U.S. faculty teaching at a Cuban academic institution:
The general license, like the specific licenses previously issued to college and universities
under the superseded provision, authorizes faculty to teach at a Cuban academic institution, but
retains the limitations of the superseded provision: (a) that the teacher be “regularly employed”
in a teaching capacity at the sponsoring U.S. college or university; and (b) that the teaching “be
no shorter than 10 weeks.”
The general license does not define “regularly employed.” As confirmed by OFAC’s
interpretation of that term in comparable context (such as the general license for journalists),
“regularly employed” includes persons who are not full-time employees.
No dollar limitation on payment of fees and other transactions directly incident to
the educational activity:
The general license authorizes not only travel-related transactions (for example, housing
and meals) but also “additional transactions that are directly incident” to the licensed activity,
such as payment of fees or tuition to the University of Havana. The travel-related transactions
are currently limited to $179 per day but there is no limit on what can be spent on “additional
transactions directly incident” to the licensed activity.
Letter from sponsoring U.S. college or university:
To travel under the general license, the U.S. person must carry a letter from the
sponsoring U.S. college or university signed by the person designated as the official responsible
for overseeing the institution’s Cuba travel program by relevant dean, academic vice-president,
provost or president of the institution.
In the instance of a student enrolled at one U.S. college or university participating in an
educational activity sponsored by another college or university, it is the latter that provides the
required letter. The letter must state that the student will receive credit at his or her own college
Cuban scholars teaching or engaging in other scholarly activity at U.S. colleges or
The general license authorizes a Cuban “scholar,” not simply a Cuban academic, to teach
or engage in other “scholarly” activity at U.S. colleges and universities, and to be paid stipends
and salaries. The CACR does not define “scholar” or “scholarly” activity; both terms may
reasonably be construed broadly.
Note that the general license does not obviate the need to obtain a visa issued by the U.S.
2. Specific Licenses for Three Categories of Educational Activities -§ 515.565(b)(1)
In addition to the above general license, the new amendments permit OFAC to issue
specific licenses authorizing three of the educational activities otherwise authorized by the
general license in instances when the general license does not apply for some reason. The three
activities are research for a graduate degree; participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban
academic institution; and teaching at a Cuban academic institution.
OFAC could use this provision to license, for example: structured educational programs
run by a U.S. college or university even though credit toward a degree is not offered; teaching at
a Cuban university for less than 10 weeks; or U.S. experts teaching at a Cuban university even
though they are not regularly employed by a U.S. college or university.
In our view, there is good reason for the Guidelines to establish clear criteria for its grant
of specific licenses under this provision, rather than make ad hoc and potentially arbitrary or
inconsistent licensing decisions on individual applications.
3. Specific Licenses for U.S. Academic Institutions to Sponsor or Co-Sponsor
Academic Seminars, Conferences and Workshops Related to Cuba or Global
Issues Involving Cuba - § 515.567(b)(3)
The amendments authorize OFAC to grant specific licenses to U.S. colleges and
universities (a) for “sponsorship or co-sponsorship” of “academic seminars, conferences, and
workshops” in Cuba “related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba,” and (b) attendance at the
sponsored or co-sponsored event by “faculty, staff, and students” of the licensed U.S. institution.
Those attending would be able to pay a fee, directly or indirectly, to the Cuban co-sponsor or
host of the event.
Unless OFAC indicates to the contrary in the Guidelines or specific licenses, it may be
assumed that “sponsorship or co-sponsorship” includes organizing and running the event, either
with or without the participation of a Cuban counterpart.
The Obama Administration’s adoption of a specific license regime for these categories of
activities rather a general license is fraught with potential difficulties, including OFAC’s possible
intrusion on academic freedom and autonomy. Why would some U.S.-sponsored academic
events be licensed and others not, except for OFAC’s approval or disapproval of their academic
content or viewpoint? In our view, OFAC would do well to establish objective criteria unrelated
to content and viewpoint.
4. Banking Transactions by U.S. Academic Institutions
The new amendments include an explanatory “Note” that accredited U.S. colleges or
universities are permitted to open and maintain accounts at Cuban financial institutions, in order
to have funds available for the travel-related transactions and other transactions directly incident
to the licensed activities. For example, a U.S. college can open an account at a Cuban bank
sufficient to cover the anticipated expenses of its students’ studying in Cuba.
In our view, this has always been authorized, but the explanatory “Note” in the
amendments is nonetheless helpful. As is often done for other licensed transactions, funds could
be transferred to Cuban banks by wire transfer from U.S. banks through third-country banks.
5. General License for Remittances to Students in Cuba Pursuant to an
Educational License – § 515.570(d)
The amendments add a general license that authorizes remittances to close relatives who
are U.S. college or university students licensed to be in Cuba for educational activities. The
student is limited to $ 179 per day for travel-related expenses (hotel or other accommodations
and meals, for example); there is no limitation on other expenditures directly incident to the
licensed activity, for example, payment of fees or tuition to the University of Havana.
II. Specific Licenses for “People-to-People” Educational Exchanges – § 515.565(b)(2)
The new amendments authorize OFAC to issue specific licenses for “educational
exchanges” that “take place under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes
such programs to promote people-to-people contact.”
Businesses as well as not-for-profits and academic institutions may qualify as an
“organization that sponsors and organizes” programs to promote people-to-people contact.
The provision is identical in its wording to the Clinton Administration’s 1999 “people-topeople”
provision. We do not know yet whether the Obama Administration intends to utilize this
provision in the same expansive way that the Clinton Administration used the 1999 provision;
the amendments permit but do not require a comparably robust approach. Much will depend on
When the identical provision was in effect during the Clinton Administration, OFAC
granted numerous specific licenses that permitted a wide-range of businesses and institutions to
carry out successful programs in Cuba.
Among the many different types of organizations that operated programs under “peopleto-
people” specific licenses were:
Religious Institutions (for activities not deemed “religious activities”)
Groups organized on an ad hoc basis for purposes of traveling to Cuba
Often, participation in their programs was not limited to members but was offered more broadly.
Although “people-to-people” educational exchanges were robust under the Clinton
Administration, the Bush Administration moved to narrow the exchanges through restrictive
“Guidelines.” The Bush Administration also moved to limit these exchanges by taking the
position that licensees could not organize programs in Cuba led by others, or enter into certain
other types of arrangements that OFAC considered improper “lending” of their licenses. After
sharply curtailing “people-to-people” educational exchanges in these ways, the Bush
Administration finally eliminated this category of travel altogether in March 2003.
It remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration will adopt Guidelines that give
“people-to-people” educational exchanges an expansive reach or impose the crippling
restrictions of the Bush Administration.
Unless removed by the Obama Administration, OFAC’s limitations on licensed Travel
Service Providers (“TSPs”) may constrict “people-to-people” educational exchanges. TSPs are
businesses that are licensed by OFAC to provide services related to travel to Cuba. Under
OFAC’s current rules, OFAC will not issue “people-to-people” specific licenses to TSPs.
Rather, TSPs may only service organizations or individuals that have themselves obtained
The specific licenses issued under this provision will grant authority not only to engage in
travel-related transactions (limited to $179 per day) but also other transactions directly incident
to the licensed activity, for example, payment to a Cuban institution or business for helping
arrange the educational exchanges.
III. Specific Licenses for Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Athletic and Other
Competitions and Exhibits – § 515.567
1. Clinics and Workshops
The amendments restore OFAC’s authority to grant specific licenses authorizing
participation in a “clinic” or “workshop” in Cuba, provided that that the clinic or workshop in
Cuba is “organized and run, at least in part, by the licensee.”
There was no limitation in the Clinton-era provision that the clinic or workshop be
“organized and run,” even in part, by the U.S. licensee. That restriction was added by the Bush
The event must “be open for attendance, and, in relevant situations, participation, by the
The provision is devoid of any indication as to what types of “clinics” or “workshops”
OFAC will license. It is possible that the Obama Administration will use the Guidelines to
provide broad criteria and paradigms, but OFAC’s past Guidelines on “clinics” and “workshops”
left much to guesswork and ad hoc licensing decisions.
Before the Bush Administration’s repeal of the predecessor provision, OFAC licensed a
wide-range of clinics and workshops. Amateurs and enthusiasts, as well as professionals and
students in the field, often were able to participate. OFAC used the following example to
illustrate at least one aspect of its licensing policy: OFAC would license “a group of ballet
dancers wish[ing] to travel to Cuba to hold workshops with the Cuban ballet where they will,
using hands-on techniques, exchange lessons on Cuban and American ballet techniques.”
“Clinics” and “workshops” do not necessarily involve an exchange between more or less
equals. A “clinic” might involve, for example, Cuban professional dancers instructing U.S.
amateurs or enthusiasts on Cuban forms of social dancing.
The specific licenses authorized by the provision will license not only travel-related
transactions (up to $179 per day) but “other transactions directly incident” to the licensed
activity. A typical example of the latter would be payment of a fee to the Cuban counterpart of
the licensed U.S. entity for helping organize and run the clinic or workshop.
The prior provision (which authorized the grant of specific licenses for participation in
public performances, certain athletic events and exhibitions) required that all “U.S. profits from
the event after costs [be] donated to an independent non-governmental organization in Cuba or a
U.S.-based charity, with the objective, to the extent possible, of benefiting the Cuban people.”
The new provision (which covers clinics and workshops as well) expands the permissible
objectives to include “promoting people-to-people contact.”
3. Athletic Competitions
The new provision does not change the existing provision authorizing OFAC to issue
specific licenses for participation under the auspices of an international sports federation. The
Clinton-era, 1999 regulations provided a general license for those activities.
IV. Religious Activities
1. General License to Engage in Religious Activities – § 515.566(a)
The previous regulations authorized OFAC to issue specific licenses to “religious
organizations” to engage in “religious activities” in Cuba. The new amendments replace this
specific license provision with a general license.
The general license applies not only to the religious organization but to its “members and
staff.” The religious organization must provide a letter confirming that they are traveling to
engage in religious activities “under the auspices of the organization.”
The general license authorizes both travel-related transactions (with a limit of $179 per
day) and other transactions that are directly incident to religious activities in Cuba. The latter
would include, for example, U.S. persons providing services.
The general license does not cover financial or material donations. However, financial
donations may be authorized either by the new general license for remittances to “religious
organizations in Cuba,” discussed below, or by specific license. Material donations of U.S.-
origin commodities must be authorized by the Commerce Department; and material donations of
third-country commodities must be authorized by specific OFAC license.
The general license permitting “religious organizations” to engage in “religious
activities” essentially mirrors the previous provision for the grant of specific licenses. OFAC
generated substantial controversy by how it defined “religious organizations” and “religious
activities” for purposes of that now superseded provision. There is no legal impediment to
OFAC agreeing that “religious organizations” and “religious activities” have a broader scope in
the general license.
Under its Guidelines to the now superseded provision, OFAC considered entities to be
“religious organizations” only if (a) they had an “established congregation served by an
organized ministry,” provided “regular religious services,” provided “religious education of the
young,” disseminated a formal religious doctrine, and had a membership not associated with any
other denomination; or (b) the IRS had determined that they were “churches, their integrated
auxiliaries or conventions or associations of churches.”
Those Guidelines defined the “religious activities” that a “religious organization” might
pursue under a specific license as including, but not being limited to, attendance at religious
services or activities that contribute to the development of a Cuban counterpart’s religious or
institutional development such as: ministerial training, education, or licensing; religious school
development; youth outreach; training in or the conducting of marriage seminars; construction of
places of worship or other facilities for full-time use by a Cuban counterpart; production and
distribution of religious materials; assistance in holding religious services; religious preaching or
training; and training or assistance in church administration.
2. General License for Remittances to “Religious Organizations” - § 515.570(c)
The amendments provide a general license for remittances to “religious organizations” in
Cuba in support of “religious activities,” without any limitations as to amount or frequency.
The remittance may be made by any U.S. individual, partnership, association, corporation,
or other organization.
The same issues as to what will be considered “religious organizations” and “religious
activities” arise under this general license as arise under the general license for “religious
organizations” to carry out “religious activities” in Cuba.
3. Specific License for Religious Activities - § 515.566(b)
The amendments authorize OFAC to issue specific licenses in its discretion authorizing
“religious activities” not authorized by the above two general licenses. For example, OFAC, in
its discretion, could license entities that do not qualify as “religious organizations” within the
meaning of the general licenses to engage in religious activities in Cuba; or license financial
donations to Cuban entities that do not qualify as “religious organizations” to support their
Unless OFAC establishes broad and objective criteria in the new Guidelines, there will be
substantial difficulties, constitutional and otherwise, in OFAC drawing distinctions in its
licensing decisions between different forms of “religious organizations” and “religious
4. Banking Transactions by Religious Organizations
The new regulations include an explanatory “Note” that religious organizations are
permitted to open and maintain accounts at Cuban financial institutions, in order to cover
transactions authorized by the general or specific licenses discussed above.
In our view, this was always authorized, but the explanatory “Note” is helpful. As is
done for other licensed transactions, funds could be transferred to Cuban banks by wire transfer
from U.S. banks through third-country banks.
V. Specific Licenses for Free-Lance Journalistic Activities - § 515.563
The CACR provides a general license authorizing travel for journalistic activities by
persons “regularly employed” as journalists by news gathering organizations. The CACR also
used to authorize OFAC to issue specific licenses for travel to do “research in Cuba for a freelance
article.” The amendments expand the scope of the provision for specific licenses by
modifying it to cover “free-lance journalistic projects,” not simply “articles.” The amendment
should make it easier, for example, to obtain specific licenses to engage in journalistic activities
in media in addition to print media, such as making a documentary film.
1. General License for Remittances to Any Cuban “National” – § 515.570(b)
The amendments add a new general license that authorizes remittances to Cuban
“nationals.” The remitter may send funds to an unlimited number of Cuban “nationals.” The
total remittances to any one Cuban “national” cannot exceed $500 in any consecutive threemonth
The potential recipients, Cuban “nationals,” are defined by the CACR to mean not only
individuals but any partnership, association, corporation or other organization in Cuba. The only
exclusions are officials of the Cuban Government and members of the Cuban Communist Party
at a certain level.
The remitter sending funds to Cuban “nationals” can be an individual, partnership,
association, corporation or other organization. The new amendments authorize remittances by
“persons,” which the CACR define to mean an individual and each of these entities.
The general license states that remittances may be made “to support the development of
private businesses,” but do not confine remittances to that or any other purpose.
The general license for remittances does not authorize U.S. persons to make investments
in or loans to Cuban businesses or to become partners or participants in those businesses, or to
enter into agreements with the recipients that they will receive something in return for the
remittances at a future date (even on the condition that the return will not be made until
permitted by U.S. law).
The new regulations do not make any changes to the general license for family remittances
adopted by the Obama Administration in September 2009. That general license authorizes
remittances to “close relatives” in Cuba without any limitation as to amount or frequency, and
defines “close relatives” extremely broadly to include any individual related by blood, marriage
or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from the recipient or from a common
ancestor with that person.
2. Specific Licenses for Remittances to “Non-Governmental Entities” and
Individuals to Support the Development of Private Businesses – § 515.570(g)
The amendments supplement the general license for remittances up to $500 every three
months to “Cuban nationals” with a provision authorizing OFAC to issue specific licenses
permitting remittances to “individuals or independent non-government entities to support the
development of private businesses,” including specifically but not limited to “small farms.”
The provision does not define “independent non-government entities.”
Under this provision, OFAC can issue specific licenses that set whatever limits as to
amount and frequency that OFAC wishes, or without any limits.
3. Carrying General License Remittances – § 515.560(c)(4)(i)
The new amendments authorize persons authorized by general or specific license to travel
to Cuba to bring with them remittances authorized by general licenses (except for the general
license for emigration purposes), but only in an aggregate amount not to exceed $3,000 on any
one trip. The CACR previously provided this authorization for family remittances only.
VII. Cuban Nationals Permanently Resident in Third-Countries – § 515.505
Prior to the amendments, Cuban nationals taking up permanent residence in a thirdcountry
would have to apply to OFAC to become unblocked nationals. Until that application
was granted, they would remain fully subject to the CACR, with the consequence that persons
subject to U.S. jurisdiction could not engage in unlicensed transactions with them, and their
property in the U.S. remained blocked.
The amendments retain the requirement of applying for and obtaining status as an
unblocked national for the unblocking of blocked property in the U.S. However, the
amendments provide a general license authorizing persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage
in any other transaction with a Cuban national who is a permanent resident in a third-country. To
do so, the U.S. person must obtain copies of at least two documents indicating “permanent
residence” issued by the third-country, “such as a passport, voter registration card, permanent
resident alien card, or national identity card.”
Prohibition on TSPs Maintaining Offices in Cuba
OFAC prohibits TSPs – that is, businesses licensed by OFAC to provide services related
to travel to Cuba – from maintaining their own offices in Cuba, or engaging Cuban businesses to
act as agents. This prohibition will necessarily limit the impact of Obama Administration’s
amendments, given what is required to service travel of the nature and scope contemplated by the
Correspondent Banking Relations
The CACR prohibits U.S. and Cuban banks from establishing correspondent banking
relations. While the transfer of funds is possible through third-country banks, the absence of
correspondent banking relations will drive up the costs and burden of making the necessary
transfers for travel and remittances authorized by the new amendments, as it does for family
travel and remittances.
The foregoing does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. Anyone seeking
legal advice about the subjects of this memorandum, or about the United States embargo
regulations generally, should consult an attorney.