Simpler and less expensive travel to Cuba by Americans is apparently short-lived, as more difficult and costly travel to the island nation appears forthcoming.

In a recent speech in Miami outlining his policies on Cuban travel and commercial ties with the island country, President Donald Trump said the U.S. is not severing ties with Cuba and the U.S. Embassy will remain open, but he hopes to force the Castro government to reform, especially as to human rights violations, by reverting to some of the policies that had been in effect for close to 50 years before the Obama détente moves.

What will change and what will not change?

  • Tourism to Cuba is technically banned, but, under the Obama Administration, the regulations were relaxed and individuals could plan their own “people to people” cultural tours. Now, Americans making educational or cultural trips will have to do so through a licensed tour company or apply for their own license from the Treasury Department. This is apt to be not only more costly, but more complicated.
  • Americans will be prohibited from transactions with companies controlled by the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services. Since those agencies run much of the tourist infrastructure, including hotels, tourists will find it hard to know where they can spend money.
  • The Department of State will issue a list of blacklisted companies (which could make things clearer) and the Department of Treasury will audit tours and finances more stringently.
  • There will be exceptions to the embargo for American companies (such as Starwood Hotels) already doing business with the Cuban government and for airports and seaports, meaning cruise ships and commercial air flights will not be affected directly (although the companies may curtail them as tourism may drop).
  • Other exceptions to the trade embargo are expected to remain in effect, including for medical supplies, telecommunications technology, and agricultural products.
  • The “wet foot, dry foot policy” ended by Obama will not be reinstated, i.e., Cuban refugees making it to the U.S. soil will be treated like any other refugees. They will be sent back or they will have to try to apply for asylum.

Trump stated he wants to force the Castro Administration to promote free and fair elections, release political prisoners, and allow Cuban workers to be paid directly. Those goals are seemingly shared by both the current and former administrations, but there are marked differences in how to accomplish them. Under the Obama Administration’s scaling back of restrictions, there was a surge in Cuban “capitalism.” More than 600,000 Americans visited Cuba last year and a Cuban entrepreneur class has been developing. Entrepreneurs have opened independent restaurants and have been selling their own “products,” such as tourist rooms and tours through Airbnb to cater to the revived American tourist industry.

The new rules will not go into effect immediately and it may take months before they become reality. The government has 90 days to start rewriting regulations.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.