White House Eases Some Restrictions for Cuba
The United States announced earlier this month a revision to its policy toward Cuba, including easing some restrictions on family remittances and travel to the island. The changes also make it easier for Cubans to visit the U.S. as more visas will be processed. The move comes after a long review of U.S.-Cuba relations over the last year and a half.
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.
The State Department however made it 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 to further increase consular services and visa processing. That will clear the way for more Cubans to join their families in the United States via regular migration channels. Teh White House said it 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, these changes fall short of previous polices enacted in early 2016 when travel to Cuba became widely available for Americans.
“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.