On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the Trump Administration announced additional changes to its Cuba policy, further restricting group people-to-people educational travel and limiting the types of aircraft and vessels authorized to travel to Cuba on temporary sojourn. Tuesday’s actions are intended to prevent travel from the United States to Cuba from enriching the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services. These changes, which took effect on June 5, 2019, are a further step toward implementation of the National Security Presidential Memorandum of June 16, 2017 “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba” and the Administration’s intent to restrict non-family travel to Cuba as announced by the President on April 17, 2019. Please see our blog posts covering these prior developments here and here.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control has amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to remove an authorization for group people-to-people educational travel. There is a limited “grandfathering” provision to authorize certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized where the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 5, 2019. Certain other categories of travel continue to be authorized under other general licenses.
In addition, on June 5, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amended License Exception Aircraft, Vessels and Spacecraft (AVS) in the Export Administration Regulations to remove the authorization for the export or reexport to Cuba of most non-commercial aircraft and passenger and recreational vessels on temporary sojourn. BIS has also amended the licensing policy for exports and reexports to Cuba of such aircraft and vessels to establish a general policy of denial. This means that private and corporate aircraft, cruise ships, sailboats, fishing boats, and other similar aircraft and vessels subject to US jurisdiction will now generally be prohibited from traveling to/from Cuba.
Finally, we note that the Administration has not yet implemented the cap on remittances to Cuba and the prohibition on dollar transactions involving Cuba through third-party financial institutions (i.e., so-called “U-turn” transactions) that were also announced on April 17. Additional changes to the CACR are therefore likely in the near future.