— -- The Obama administration is out with big changes to U.S./Cuba business operations.
Starting Monday, American companies are not only allowed to establish a physical presence in Cuba and hire Cuban nationals, but they can open bank accounts and bring family members with them on work related travel.
In certain cases, such as work related to Internet and telecommunications, American businesses are even able to partner with the Cuban government for joint-ventures.
While tourism is still not allowed and travelers must still fall into one of the 12 pre-approved categories, these changes make it much easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, continuing President Obama's push to open up to Americans the once restricted country.
“Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to promote constructive change for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew wrote in a statement. “A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike. By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba."
The Obama administration will also be lifting the limits on all remittances to the island. Prior to these changes, family members could only send $2,000 per quarter to their Cuban relatives.
While there are still many questions that remain -- like will the Cuban government allow any and all businesses to establish a presence -- the administration said today they’ve done what they can to “lower all barriers” for American businesses.
No longer are individual exemptions needed for cruise ships and ferry services, now authorized travelers can travel to Cuba via other routes than just air. In January, the regulation change occurred for air carriers allowing them to establish charter flights to the island.
The new regulations also allow exports from the U.S. to Cuba for safety in civil aviation—such as explosion detection and deicing.
ABC NEWS has been told to expect changes to civil aviation, which would allow commercial flights to Cuba, but the talks are ongoing and no time line was given.