A specific license requires written government approval. Applicants should write a letter to OFAC (http://cubatravel.ofac.treas.gov ) stating the date of the planned visit and the length of stay; the specific purpose(s) of the visit; plus the name(s), title(s), and background(s) of the traveler. Allow two or three months. Special licenses are issued by OFAC on a case-by-case basis authorizing travel transactions in connection with these travel categories:
Humanitarian travel and support for the Cuban people: Persons traveling to Cuba to accompany licensed humanitarian donations or in connection with activities of recognized human rights organizations investigating human rights violations; or travel aimed at promoting “independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.”
Freelance journalists: Persons with a suitable record of publication who are traveling to do research for a freelance article.
Professional research and meetings: Persons engaging in professional research or attending professional meetings that do not meet the general license requirements.
Educational research: U.S. universities, colleges, and nongovernmental organizations may apply for one-year travel permits to Cuba that will permit students and academic staff to travel to Cuba. Once such a license is approved, the following categories of travelers affiliated with that academic institution are authorized to engage in travel-related transactions without seeking further approval: (1) undergraduate or graduate students participating in a structured educational program lasting at least 10 weeks in Cuba as part of a course offered at a U.S. undergraduate or graduate institution; (2) persons doing noncommercial Cuba-related academic research for the purpose of qualifying academically as a professional (e.g., research toward a graduate degree); (3) students participating in a formal course of study lasting at least 10 weeks at a Cuban academic institution, provided the Cuban study will be accepted for credit toward a degree at the licensed U.S. institution; (4) persons regularly employed as teachers at a licensed U.S. undergraduate or graduate institution who plan to teach part or all of an academic program at a Cuban academic institution for at least 10 weeks; (5) full-time employees of a licensed institution organizing or preparing for the educational activities described above. In all cases, students and teachers planning to engage in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed institution stating the institution’s license number and that the individual meets the specific criteria.
Religious organizations: Specific licenses may be issued by OFAC to religious organizations authorizing individuals affiliated with the organization to engage in travel transactions so long as a full-time program of religious activity is pursued in Cuba. Persons wishing to engage in religious activities that are not authorized pursuant to a religious organization’s license may also apply for a specific license, including for multiple trips.
Public performances, athletic or other competitions, and exhibitions: Persons traveling to participate in such events may apply, so long as the event is open to public attendance and any profits go to a U.S.-based charity or independent nongovernmental organization in Cuba. Also, amateur or semiprofessional athletes or teams selected for a competition by the relevant U.S. sports federation may travel to participate in athletic competition held under the auspices of an international sports federation, so long as the event is open to the Cuban public.
Private foundations or research or educational institutions: Persons traveling to Cuba on behalf of private foundations, research institutes, or educational institutes that have an established interest in international relations to collect information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes.
Export, import, or transmission of informational materials: Persons traveling to engage in exportation, importation, or transmission of informational materials.