The Biden administration Monday announced a partial lift on Cuban sanctions. The move is intended to expand channels of communication, travel and economic support between the US and Cuba.
Under the Trump administration, the US took a hard-line stance against Cuba. US travel to Cuba was restricted and Cuban commercial businesses were sanctioned by both the Department of Treasury and Department of Commerce. In January 2021 the Trump administration Department of State also designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, which further limited trade, foreign aid and defense exports to Cuba.
On the campaign trail, President Joe Biden promised to renew US-Cuba relations and roll back some of the Trump-era policies. As a result of the lifted sanctions, the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program will be reinstated. The CFRP program increases visa processing for Cubans looking to join their families in the US through regular visa migration channels. Additionally, with lifted sanctions it will be easier for US residents to visit Cuba whether that be to visit relatives, travel, conduct business or research.
Lifting sanctions against Cuba also means the US can extend economic support to the country. This includes private sector support through internet services, applications and e-commerce platforms. In addition, the US will expand the family remittance cap, which was previously placed at $1,000 per quarter. The expectation is that, by freely allowing Americans and Cubans to send money between the countries, families and entrepreneurs will be empowered.
While the partial lifting of sanctions is a step away from Trump administration policies, it does not match Obama administration policies which allowed for individual “people-to-people” travel. Additionally, some entities are still sanctioned and listed on the Cuba Restricted list, which restricts US companies from doing business with them.