Cuba Shuts Down US Travel Visas

Photo Credit: flippinyank/flickrThe government of Cuba announced late Friday that it will no longer process visas for U.S. travel to Cuba.

Cuba said travel will end until a new U.S. bank can be found to process visa fees that are collected and routed to Cuba.

Cuba’s decision means only humanitarian travel will be permitted to the island nation from the United States, and that the “people-to-people” visas and other educational travel will be shut off. Cuba said it would cut off “family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports” and other exchanges.

The decision is a blow to the goals of the Obama administration, which sought to expand travel opportunities to the island. It will also have an immediate impact on Cuba’s access to hard currency, on which many of its citizens rely.

M&T Bank of Buffalo, New York, had long handled these transactions, but decided last year to terminate all of its embassy accounts. M&T had said it would continue processing visa deposits for Cuba until next Monday.

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