OFAC License - Legal Cuba Travel
In November 2014, Oceans for Youth Foundation applied to the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), Licensing Division for a specific license for a “people-to-people group” educational exchange under 31 C.F.R. 515.565(b) of the Cuban Asset Control Regulations (the “Regulations”). In response, Oceans for Youth Foundation received an approval in February 2015.
The approval letter notes that “[t]o the extent that [the Oceans for Youth Foundation’s people-to-people group program] travel transactions described in [our November 2014 application] falls[s] within the scope of the [people-to-people group educational activities], . . . you may proceed without further authorization from OFAC.” It is on this basis that the Foundation has an OFAC License to conduct its Cuba Travel Program, in which you will be participating.
Ocean for Youth’s Cuba Travel Program is in partnership with the Jardines Aggressors, owned by Vessel Marine Holdings, a Panamanian Company. Under OFAC Regulations, there are specific procedures by all travelers under our Cuba license.
Direct people-to-people group interactions between Americans with Cubans (youths and their parents; local marine officials; and marine professionals) will provide a unique opportunity for U.S. travel participants to understand the setting in which Cubans experience their own marine environment. Individuals on the island – particularly Cuban professionals and Cuban youth (and their parents) who have limited opportunities to meet foreign counterparts – will acquire different perspectives on marine life, conservation, and stewardship. Travel participants with the Foundation who meet this slice of the Cuban population will experience a closeness with their Cuban counterparts where there had not been before.
The Foundation firmly believes that educating not only American but also Cuban youth about these very important aspects of the underwater world will strengthen both local (Cuban) and international preservation of Cuba’s natural marine environment. The Foundation takes pride in the hope that these meetings between and among American and Cuban participants will help everyone become better guardians and defenders of the marine environment.
Onboard the Jardines Aggressor I, Jardines Aggressor II or MV Oceans For Youth, you will meet with Cuban specialists and be able to scuba dive or snorkel in one of the healthiest marine ecosystems in Cuba while learning from marine professionals on the importance of maintaining this healthy ecosystem.
Program Requirement: Full-Time Schedule
The OFAC Regulations require that each U.S. citizen participating in our Cuba Travel Program “must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interactions between the travelers and individuals in Cuba." In the Foundation’s application to the Department of Treasury, we had to certify just that.
With that as our directive, the Foundation has designed a full-time educational schedule in which travelers are required to participate.
If you have any further questions or concerns about our OFAC License, please do not hesitate to contact our Cuba Travel Program specialist at 800-348-2628 and 706-993-2531.