Guidelines for Travel to Cuba

For Students

Guidelines for Undergraduate Students

Travel to Cuba for the purpose of tourism is prohibited. To be eligible for travel to Cuba for educational activities under the OFAC regulations and with the University’s sponsorship undergraduate students must fall into at least one of the following two categories:

  • Students who are participating in a “structured educational program” in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by Harvard (either a group of students currently enrolled in a Harvard course who travel to Cuba to engage in meetings, attend lectures or performances, conduct interviews, visit museums and archives, or pursue other learning experiences as part of that course; or individual students who are engaged in a research project as part of their Honors Thesis or another Harvard course in which they are currently enrolled or will be enrolled after returning from Cuba

  • Students who enroll in formal courses of instruction at a Cuban academic institution, provided that they are eligible to receive Harvard College credit for those courses (requires formal approval from the Office of International Education (OIE))

Guidelines for Graduate or Professional Students

To be eligible for travel to Cuba for educational activities under the OFAC regulations and with the University’s sponsorship, graduate or professional students must fall into at least one of the following three categories:

  • Students who are participating in a “structured educational program” in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by Harvard (this means a group of students currently enrolled in a Harvard course who travel to engage in meetings, attend lectures or performances, conduct interviews, visit museums and archives, or pursue other learning experiences as part of that course)

  • Students who are engaged in noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba for which they are eligible to receive credit toward a graduate or professional degree (for example, research for Harvard courses in which they are currently enrolled or will be enrolled after returning from Cuba, Masters theses or similar professional projects or exercises, and doctoral dissertations)

  • Students who enroll in formal courses of instruction at a Cuban academic institution, provided that they are eligible to receive credit for those courses from their graduate or professional school (requires formal approval)

Additional Guidelines for Student Groups

Students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs at Harvard University may apply to travel as a group, but each student must be currently enrolled in a Harvard course and traveling to Cuba as part of that course. Student groups must be accompanied by a Harvard faculty member and must submit a final group report upon the trip's completion.

Application Requirements

Applications should be submitted at least eight weeks prior to the proposed travel. For complete information, contact Rachel Murray-Crawford, Assistant Director of Student Programs

Harvard does not act as a travel agent to arrange flights nor can it assist students in finding accommodations or provide other non-academic logistical support for stays in Cuba. The Center can provide information about faculty and other resources at Harvard and in some cases may be able to assist students in arranging an institutional host in Cuba. Please note that in addition to obtaining a United States license to travel to Cuba, travelers must also apply for a visa from the Cuban Government through a host institution in Cuba. For more information, please contact the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC directly. Phone calls to the Academic Visa Section should be directed to 202-797-8518, ext 123 or via US mail by at: 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.

Please send all application materials to: Katherine Swanson, Global Support Services, Harvard University

 

For Faculty & Staff

Harvard Sponsorship for Faculty & Staff Travel

Under the 2011 OFAC general license provisions, the University is permitted to authorize members of the faculty and staff to engage in certain travel-related transactions in Cuba with the exception of those faculty who are paid employees of affiliated hospitals and do not earn a salary paid by the University. Such travel would otherwise be impossible for U.S. citizens and residents because of the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. The categories of travel permitted under Harvard’s sponsorship are as follows:

  • Faculty may travel to Cuba to teach at a Cuban academic institution, provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution, and further provided that the duration of the teaching will be no shorter than 10 weeks; to be eligible, faculty must be regularly employed in a teaching capacity at Harvard

  • Members of the faculty and staff of Harvard may travel to Cuba in connection with a structured educational program in Cuba (for undergraduates or graduates) that is part of a course offered for credit at Harvard

  • Members of the faculty and staff of Harvard may travel to Cuba to organize and prepare for other licensed educational transactions and activities

Application Information

Each Harvard faculty or staff member who wishes to travel under the University’s Specific License must submit an individual written proposal at least eight weeks prior to the proposed trip. 

The proposal must include the following information on Harvard University letterhead:

  • The traveler’s name and Harvard affiliation

  • Documentation that the traveler is a full-time permanent employee of Harvard

  • If applicable, documentation that the traveler is regularly employed by Harvard in a teaching capacity

  • A detailed description of the purpose of the travel and the proposed activities (typically one to two pages)

  • Proposed dates of travel

  • Proposed itinerary and letter of invitation from host Cuban institution, if applicable

  • A copy of the front page of the traveler’s passport

Please send all application materials to: Katherine Swanson, Global Support Services, Harvard University


Note: Although travel to Cuba for research purposes is not authorized by Harvard’s General License, such travel may be authorized under a separate section of the OFAC regulations. Under what is called the “General License” provisions, travel to Cuba is permitted for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provided that the research: 1) is of an non-commercial academic nature; 2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; 3) has substantial likelihood of public dissemination; and (4) does not fall within certain prohibited categories (travel in pursuit of a hobby, for example). The regulations also authorize attendance by full-time professionals at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution or association that regularly sponsors meetings or conferences in other countries, provided that: (1) the sponsoring organization is not headquartered in the United States, unless it has a specific license to sponsor the meeting in Cuba: (2) the purpose of the meeting is not the promotion of tourism or other commercial activities in Cuba; and (3) the meeting is not intended to foster production of any biotechnological products. Please note that a recent modification to the regulations makes clear that attendance at professional meetings or conferences is not allowed unless it meets the criteria listed above.

Travel to Cuba for Full-time Professional Researchers Under a General License

Although travel to Cuba for research purposes is not authorized by Harvard’s General License, such travel may be authorized under a separate section of the OFAC regulations. Under what is called the “General License” provisions, travel to Cuba is permitted for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provided that the research: 1) is of an non-commercial academic nature; 2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; 3) has substantial likelihood of public dissemination; and (4) does not fall within certain prohibited categories (travel in pursuit of a hobby, for example). The regulations also authorize attendance by full-time professionals at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution or association that regularly sponsors meetings or conferences in other countries, provided that: (1) the sponsoring organization is not headquartered in the United States, unless it has a specific license to sponsor the meeting in Cuba: (2) the purpose of the meeting is not the promotion of tourism or other commercial activities in Cuba; and (3) the meeting is not intended to foster production of any biotechnological products. Please note that a recent modification to the regulations makes clear that attendance at professional meetings or conferences is not allowed unless it meets the criteria listed above.

Note: Harvard cannot authorize travel outside of the categories covered by its general license. Harvard will not authorize other travel, even if that travel meets the OFAC's General License criteria. 

For more information on the US government’s regulations on travel to Cuba, please refer to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office Foreign Assets Control.

Cuban Visa

In addition to obtaining a United States license to travel to Cuba, travelers must also apply for a visa from the Cuban Government. For more information, please contact the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC directly. Phone calls to the Academic Visa Section should be directed to 202-797-8518, ext 123 or via US mail by at: 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.