The Obama administration has announced new changes to Cuba policy allowing easier travel and hiring of Cuban nationals.
Americans will no longer need to be part of an official tour group to participate in "people to people" cultural exchange travel to Cuba, the administration said in advance of the president’s historic trip to the island nation.
Individuals can go without signing up for a tour as long as they take part in a "full time schedule" of educational activities, the administration announced today.
Such a change, coupled with the commercial airline changes announced in December, means people can travel to Cuba with greater ease and at a lower cost.
Effective Wednesday, the changes to Cuba regulations announced by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce today will also allow U.S. companies to hire Cuban nationals to work in the United States and earn a salary. The change will affect Cuban athletes, artists, performers and others who come to the United States on a non-immigrant visa.
And for all the cigar and rum aficionados, the new regulations make it legal for Americans traveling overseas to purchase Cuban-made products in third-party countries and consume them there. The $100 limit for rum and cigars still applies when traveling to and from Cuba.
“Today’s amendments build upon President Obama’s historic actions to improve our country's relationship with Cuba and its people,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in a statement.
“These steps not only expand opportunities for economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community, but will also improve the lives of millions of Cuba’s citizens.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Cuban-made products such as rum and cigars purchased in a third-party country can be brought to the United States under these new provisions. In fact, the rules only make it legal for U.S. citizens to consume such items in those other countries.