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UC Students, Staff, and Faculty Exempt from Cuba Travel BanThe Malecon along Old Havana's harbor.

UC Students, Staff, and Faculty Exempt from Cuba Travel Ban

Approvals in as little as 24 hours for wide ranging educational experiences in Cuba.

By Leslie Evans

For forty-three years, with a brief exception during the Carter administration, American citizens have been banned from travel to the nearby island of Cuba. Special exceptions have been possible for some academics and journalists, but usually with a great deal of red tape. A fact that is not widely known, however, is that the University of California Office of the President obtained a specific license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2001 permitting all UC students, faculty and staff to travel freely to Cuba for a broad range of educational activities.

The Treasury Department is the pertinent authority overseeing the ban, because the law does not explicitly prohibit travel to Cuba, but criminalizes the spending of money while on the socialist island. This prohibition is waived under the UC license, which is processed at the UC President's Office in Oakland. Under the UC exemption from the policy, individual campuses do not need to make special applications.

There are still forms to fill out, and this can be expedited by Carol McClain, Director of Multicampus Research, or Martin Backstrom of the Office of Research. They can be reached at:

Carol McClain
Director of Multicampus Research
1111 Franklin St. 11th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 987-9473
Fax: (510) 987-9456

Martin Backstrom
Office of Reserarch, UCOP
1111 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 987-0658
Fax: (510) 987-9456

The license to travel at this time is valid through May 31, 2003, but the UC President's Office has stated its intention to seek a renewal. The license authorizes travel to Cuba for the purposes of student or faculty research, for formal courses of study at a Cuban institution, for study in a structured educational program as part of a course offered by an accredited U.S. college or university, for teaching at a Cuban institution, and for staff and faculty to organize education programs or exchanges. It also authorizes UC campuses to sponsor Cuban scholars in the United States, including payment of a stipend or a salary.

Applicants need to provide information on their planned educational activities in Cuba, dates of their stay, and proof of their UC affiliation. They are required to sign a statement affirming that they will comply with the terms of the license. Students need an email from their faculty advisor to UCOP confirming their academic plans in Cuba. Martin Backstrom says he can process the request in as little as 24 hours. Travelers need to acquire their own Cuban visa. Under this arrangement travel can be undertaken directly from Los Angeles and nonstop flights are available from LAX to Havana.

UCLA International Institute