To qualify for academic research under a general license, you must be a full-time academic professional. Are you a full-time academic professional? If so, you can qualify under a general license, which requires no paperwork or prior approval. If questioned upon return to the U.S., you must convince the authorities that the primary purpose of your travel was research rather than tourism. Sound convincing! If you qualify, you can get a direct flight between the U.S. and Cuba. One way to test your qualifications is to try to get such a direct flight. If you find that you have to get an indirect flight (e.g., through Mexico or Canada), then that may indicate that you do not qualify. Cuba Travel Services (800-963-2822) can assist you and can get you a direct flight if you qualify.