The Obama administration will loosen Cuban travel policy making it easier for students, religious and cultural groups to visit the country, a move that is bringing mixed reviews from Capitol Hill.

The White House outlined its long-awaited policy Friday evening, saying students seeking academic credit and churches traveling for religious purposes will be allowed to go to Cuba.

The proposed changes also allows any American to send as much as $500 every three months to non-family members, or a total of $2,000 yearly, to "support private economic activity" to Cubans. No changes will be made to the general license for family remittances.

The policy shift elicited support and opposition from Capitol Hill.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Cuban immigrant, said the move to help those who live in Cuba would only aid the Cuban government.

“Loosening these regulations will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba," she said in a statement. "These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights. And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them.

“These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime.”

In contrast, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE (D-Mass.) applauded the move, noting that Cuba is the only country in the world to which the United States government doesn't allow open travel.

The policy will "open the way for the good will of citizens of both countries to forge deeper ties that are in our national interest today and in the future," he said in a statement. "This is an important step. If governments cannot solve the problems between them, at least they should get out of the way and let citizens work toward finding solutions."

Kerry said he would continue pushing legislation, similar to what he sponsored in the last Congress, that will allow free travel to Cuba.

More international airports also will be allowed to offer charter service compared with only three airports now.

The administration said the move is part of "a series of steps to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future."

"These measures will increase people-to-people contact, support civil society in Cuba, enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities," according to a release from the White House.

The proposal builds on President Obama's April 2009 decision to allow families to talk to each other between the United States and Cuba and allow more humanitarian aid.

"This is an important step forward for our Cuba policy," said Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

"At a time when Cubans are changing their system in fundamental ways, it is a good idea to have greater engagement, more Americans traveling to Cuba, and more opportunities to learn from each other as everyday Cubans reshape their lives and their country."

The rules explaining each of these changes will be issued in a matter of weeks.