April 9, 2013 at 10:50 PM ET
The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Thursday confirmed that Beyonce and Jay-Z's controversial trip to Cuba last week was indeed sanctioned.
"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by (the Office of Foreign Assets Control) to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba," Alastair M. Fitzpayne, the Treasury's assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart.
The letter also notes that "OFAC's regulations and guidelines require that such trips involve a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that result in meaningful interaction between the U.S. travelers and individuals of Cuba." Visitors are allowed to "engage in non-educational activities off-hours."
The Florida representatives had contacted the Treasury with concerns about the singers' trip, writing that the U.S. travel restrictions are in place to prevent American tourism dollars being spent to support a "murderous regime."
Americans can travel to Cuba if they first obtain a license for an academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trip, but may not travel there simply for tourism.
The celebrity couple was pictured visiting the island on their fifth wedding anniversary. They toured historic Old Havana and dined at an elegant Havana restaurant, and Jay-Z was photographed smoking one of Cuba's famed cigars. The stars' presence created such a stir that police were called in.
-- With additional reporting by Kelly O'Donnell