Biden Administration Eases Trump-Era Cuba Restrictions


The Biden Administration will add flights from the United States to Cuba, let U.S. residents send more money to Cubans and restore a program designed to help Cuban relatives of U.S. citizens dodge the wait for a visa, the State Department said Monday, part of a rollback of Trump-era restrictions designed to alleviate a “humanitarian crisis” in the island nation.

Key Facts

The federal government plans to boost the number of flights offered to Cuba, including to cities other than the capital of Havana, a shift from Trump’s tightened regulations that made travel to Cuba difficult for Americans.

The U.S. is also expanding the categories for legal travel to Cuba, with more opportunities for Americans to travel on group educational visits.

The current $1,000-per-quarter cap on monetary transfers—or remittances—sent from American residents to their Cuban family members will be lifted, with the U.S. reportedly using civilian payment processors to prevent funds going to the Cuban government, and some remittances to non-family-members will also be authorized, according to Reuters, which cited an administration official.

Immigrant visa processing will increase, with a goal of issuing 20,000 per year, part of a bid to reunify families, Reuters reported.

The administration is also resuming Cuban Family Reunification Parole, a program that allows family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to potentially bypass the wait for a family immigrant visa to become available.

Key Background

The Trump Administration rolled back flights and travel to Cuba, imposed bans on commercial activity and capped remittances to put pressure on Cuba’s government, reversing the Obama Administration’s push to normalize relations with the country. During former President Donald Trump’s last few days in office, Cuba was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, after former President Barack Obama took the country off the list in 2015. President Joe Biden made a campaign promise to improve Cuban relations, but faced obstacles from Congress and due to Cuba’s controversial backing of the Venezuelan government. Biden inched toward reversing the previous administration’s contentious relationship with Cuba with migration-related dialogue in April, including a discussion to restore previous agreements to reduce unregulated migration between Cuba to the United States.

Further Reading

U.S. revises Cuba policy, eases restrictions on remittances, travel (Reuters)

Biden reverses Trump policies related to Cuba, making it easier for families to visit relatives in country (CNN)