The Obama administration announced on Tuesday it would allow individuals to travel to Cuba for “people to people” educational trips and lift limits on the use of American dollars in transactions with Cuba, moving to wipe away stiff restrictions as President Obama prepares to make a historic trip to Havana next week to showcase a new era of engagement.
The actions represent some of the most significant regulatory changes the Departments of Treasury and Commerce have made to carry out the move toward normalization that Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cubaannounced in December 2014.
While Americans are permitted to make educational visits to Cuba in tour groups, the tourism ban enshrined in the embargo has barred individuals from traveling there on their own, a limitation that will be removed under Tuesday’s revisions.
The new rules will also allow Cuban citizens to earn a salary in the United States and make it easier for dollars to be used in financial transactions with United States banks, something government officials in Havana have long pressed for.
“Today’s steps build on the actions of the last 15 months as we continue to break down economic barriers, empower the Cuban people and advance their financial freedoms, and chart a new course in U.S.-Cuba relations,” Jacob J. Lew, the Treasury secretary, said in a statement.
The changes reflect a major behind-the-scenes effort by American and Cuban officials to strike a series of deals before the coming visit by Mr. Obama to ensure that his trip is seen as a success.