New Cuba Regs Shouldn't Stop Academic Travel

November 10, 2017

Experts expect new regulations on travel to Cuba published in the Federal Register to have limited effect on educational travel to the nation. The regulations restrict Americans from patronizing certain hotels and businesses deemed as controlled by the Cuban military, intelligence and security services and require that so-called “people-to-people” educational travel be conducted under the auspices of a U.S.-based tour group. However, the regulations continue to permit various forms of academic travel, such as for study abroad, academic research, and teaching at Cuban institutions. Educational travel to Cuba has been expanding since the regulations governing it were first loosened in 2011, and then again in 2014.

“Our reading of the regulations is that academic/educational travel should largely be unaffected by the new regulations, and we think that is really good, because for the whole time that relationships have been strained between Cuba and the United States academic exchanges and partnerships have been an important part of building understanding between the new nations,” said Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The regulations do impose a new requirement on some categories of educational travel that it be done “under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.” They further specify that travelers either must be accompanied “by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who is an employee, paid consultant, agent, or other representative of the sponsoring organization” or, if they are traveling individually, that they obtain a letter from the sponsoring organization that states that:”(1) The individual is traveling to Cuba as an employee, paid consultant, agent, or other representative (including specifying the responsibilities of the individual that make him or her a representative) of the sponsoring organization; (2) the individual is acting for or on behalf of, or otherwise representing, the sponsoring organization; and (3) the individual's travel to Cuba is related to his or her role at the sponsoring organization.”

Welch said it is unclear at this point how feasible U.S. universities will find it to be to fulfill the new requirement.


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