In July 2015, seven months after President Obama's announced shift in US policy toward Cuba, the US Embassy in Havana re-opened. At this time, allowed travel to Cuba remains under the auspices of the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Licensed travel categories for students and faculty are listed below; tourist travel is still not allowed.
Since 2012, students and faculty from accredited US colleges and universities who want to conduct research in Cuba are covered under a general license for educational activities. Travelers must be able to document how they qualify under the general license, including the provision of a letter on institutional letterhead certifying the educational nature of the trip.
The most common types of student and faculty travel to Cuba are listed below. However, additional types of educational and professional activities are allowable and are detailed in full in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (subsections §515.564 and §515.565). Other categories include structured educational trips as part of university courses; participation in a course at a Cuban university for credit at a US institution; teaching at a Cuban academic institution; and sponsorship of seminars, workshops, and conferences in Cuba and attended by faculty and students of the US institution.
Graduate Student Research: CLAS may issue letters of support for full-time, degree-seeking graduate students who are conducting noncommercial research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba for the purpose of obtaining a graduate degree. This includes research for courses as well as thesis and dissertation research.
Professional Meetings and Conferences: CLAS may issue letters for students and faculty attending meetings and conferences that directly relate to the traveler's profession, professional background, or area of expertise (including full-time graduate study).
Professional Research: CLAS may issue letters for faculty who will conduct research directly related their profession, professional background, or area of expertise.
NOTE: In all of these categories, additional regulations apply, including stipulations that the traveler does not engage in any kind of recreational/tourist travel in Cuba and that the schedule of activities does not include free time in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule of research or attendance at professional meetings or conferences.
It is a requirement of the general license that travelers to Cuba authorized pursuant to this provision carry letters on official letterhead signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring academic institution. To the extent possible, CLAS supports full-time University of Chicago faculty and students interested in academic research and exchange with Cuba. Please contact CLAS if you plan to travel to Cuba under the auspices of the activities described above.
- The US Embassy in Havana recommends that all US travelers to Cuba register with the American Citizens Services Unit. More information can be found on their Traveling to Cuba webpage.
- Travelers must also obtain a visa from the Cuban government. For more information, please contact the Embassy of Cuba in the USA.
Please contact Associate Director Natalie Arsenault
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