Cuban Americans are now free to visit relatives on the island once a year and stay as long as they like, using a new license issued by the Obama administration.
The general license for travel by Cuban Americans removes a tricky loophole Congress created in its 2009 budget bill, which removed funding for enforcing travel restrictions but did not lift the restrictions.
That meant traveling to Cuba would have been illegal, but a passenger was not likely to get caught.
With the new license, created late Wednesday, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control officially lifted the tightened restrictions enacted by President Bush in 2004, which had limited trips to every three years and only to see immediate relatives.
"This is going to do wonders for my father," said Arlene García, a Chicago saleswoman who joined the campaign to lift travel restrictions so she could visit her dad, who lives in Camaguey and has lung cancer. "The fact that I am able to see him is the best medicine. Every time I go, I'm adding time to his life."
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