Economic Sanctions and Embargoes
Travel to and Transactions with Cuba and Cuban Nationals
U.S. laws and regulations prohibit U.S. persons from traveling to or engaging in any financial transactions relating to Cuba except in connection with certain activities as described below. Those qualifying as U.S. persons for this purpose include:
- U.S. citizens and residents;
- anyone (including citizen and residents of other countries) traveling to Cuba directly from the U.S.; or
- anyone (including citizen and residents of other countries) traveling to Cuba using Yale funding or in connection with a Yale activity, whether they travel to Cuba directly from the U.S. or from another country.
In December 2014, President Obama announced a new era of U.S. - Cuba relations. However, restrictions on travel to Cuba remain in place and trips to Cuba that are primarily tourist-oriented and many other transactions relating to Cuba continue to be prohibited.
A. Activities Permitted
Yale faculty, staff and students may engage in the educational activities listed below without needing to apply for a specific license from the U.S. Government, provided they retain for five years full and accurate records demonstrating that the activity was permitted and was not primarily tourist-oriented. The list below is not intended to be exhaustive but rather, gives an overview of the categories most relevant to the Yale community. Individuals interested in activities sponsored by or under the auspices of Yale not listed below must contact the Office of General Counsel at 203-432-4949 for assistance.
1. Academic Study, Research or Teaching Activities
- Participate in a structured educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by Yale or another U.S. academic institution.*
- Engage in noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree from Yale.*
- Participate in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution provided Yale will accept the formal course of study for credit toward the student’s graduate or undergraduate degree.*
- Teach at a Cuban academic institution for any length of time by an individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at Yale or another U.S. academic institution, provided the teaching is related to an academic program at the Cuban institution.*
- Establish academic exchanges and joint non-commercial academic research projects with universities or academic institutions in Cuba.
- Conduct professional research in Cuba, provided the research directly relates to the traveler’s profession, professional background, or area of expertise, including area of graduate-level full-time study; and provided further that the schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule of research (Note: as amended in January 2015, this provision now explicitly includes graduate students). *
2. Other Educational Activities
- Provide internet-based courses, including distance learning and Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”), to Cuban nationals, wherever located, provided that the course content is at the undergraduate level or below.
- Sponsor or co-sponsor noncommercial academic seminars, conferences, symposia or workshops in Cuba relating to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba and attendance by faculty, staff, and students of Yale.
- Attend or organize a professional meeting or conference in Cuba, provided the meeting or conference directly relates to the traveler’s profession, professional background, or area of expertise, including area of graduate-level full-time study and the purpose of the meeting is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba; and provided further that the schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time attendance at a meeting/conference.
- Host a public performance, clinic, workshop, or athletic competition; provided the event is open for attendance and in relevant situations to participation by the Cuban public.
- Engage in a “people to people” trip. A people to people trip is an educational trip that promotes meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba. It is not a trip involving academic study pursuant to a degree program. Prior to March 2016, such trips were allowed only if an organization that regularly promoted such people to people exchanges sponsored the trip. Effective March 2016, persons wishing to travel to Cuba to engage in a people to people trip can travel with a sponsoring organization, provided (i) the purpose of the trip is to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; (ii) each traveler has a full-time schedule of activities that will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba; (iii) the predominant portion of the trip does not involve interactions with individuals or entities acting on behalf of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist party; and (iv) if the trip is organized by a sponsoring organization, an employee of the sponsoring entity or a consultant or agent hired by the sponsoring entity must accompany the group to ensure that each traveler complies with these requirements. Note: effective June 16, 2017, individual people-to-people travel to Cuba is no longer permitted unless the individual traveler has already completed one or more transactions prior to that date (e.g., purchased a plane ticket or made hotel reservations) in preparation for an upcoming individual people-to-people trip to Cuba.
- Travel to Cuba in order to export, import, or transmit information or informational materials such as publications, films, photographs, microfiche, and artworks; provided that the traveler’s schedule does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. This exception explicitly allows travelers to film or produce media programs, record music, or create art in Cuba, as long as the traveler is regularly employed or has demonstrated professional expertise in a relevant field. This exception does not apply, however, to those who wish to travel to Cuba to publish and market manuscripts, books, journals or newspapers. Publishing- and marketing-related travel to Cuba requires pre-authorization as described below in Section B.
For those traveling to Cuba, each traveler in a group must qualify pursuant to one of the categories above. For example, for a group traveling to Cuba to do a public performance, each traveler must be contributing to this performance.
However, in some cases, close relatives may now visit or accompany family members who are traveling to Cuba (or already in Cuba) for certain categories of travel. “Close relatives” is defined as someone related by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or common ancestor with that person. The educational categories that qualify for “close relative” travel are marked with an “*” in the lists above. There are some additional categories for which close relative travel is authorized (i.e., humanitarian projects and religious activities).
Yale faculty, staff, and students who qualify under these revised regulations may now travel directly to Cuba from the United States.
B. Other Permitted Activities
Activities in addition to those described in A above may be permissible. For example, the regulations allow travel to engage in certain religious or humanitarian activities. In addition, educational activities not listed above may be permitted if you apply for pre-authorization from the U.S. government in the form of a “specific license.” Individuals interested in activities sponsored by or under the auspices of Yale not listed above must contact the Office of General Counsel at 203-432-4949 for guidance and assistance.
C. Financial Transactions with Cuban Nationals (not involving travel to Cuba)
Yale may pay a stipend or salary to bring a Cuban national to Yale to teach or engage in other scholarly activity. The regulations also allow Yale to engage in financial transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals and newspapers. For example, Yale can commission manuscripts and pay royalties to Cuban nationals. Yale can also pay Cuban nationals to create, disseminate, alter, or enhance informational materials such as films and artworks.
D. Financial Transactions Possible with U.S. Government Authorization
Financial transactions with Cuban entities or Cuban nationals other than those described above may not be permissible or may require a specific license. Individuals interested in engaging in such transactions must first contact the Office of General Counsel at 203-432-4949 to discuss the transaction and determine any compliance limits or requirements.