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No USA ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba since 2011?

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  • freckles

    Caught a tweet from Simon Calder about having to use full visa to enter USA if you’ve been in Cuba since 2011

    https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/cuba-tourism-visa-us-trump-b2173792.html

    freckles

    Somehow managed to post this twice! Apologies

    Bill

    We’ll that’s me and the family NOT going to USA for the foreseeable

    cabal of rabid baboons

    It wasn’t a problem for us in May?

    freckles

    Did you already have ESTA issues before Feb 21 when Trump made the change?
    Quite a few saying in response to Simons tweet that they have used ESTA despite Cuban trips, even where current passport shows Cuban stamps.

    NorthernLass

    I thought even Americans were allowed to visit Cuba now? Or did Trump reverse that?

    Lula

    Went to Cuba in 2011 and 2012. Have had 3 estas since without issue.

    cabal of rabid baboons

    We were in Cuba in 2019 and our ESTA were issued early 2022 for a visit in May 2022

    JDB

    We were in Cuba in 2019 and our ESTA were issued early 2022 for a visit in May 2022

    Is that because you visited Cuba before it was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in Jan 2021?

    JDB

    Certainly the FAQ is quite clear!

    When was Cuba designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism?

    The United States Department of State most recently designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism on January 12, 2021.

    How does Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism impact my travel to the United States using my approved ESTA?

    If a traveler is found to have visited a country designated as State Sponsor of Terrorism, the traveler is no longer eligible to participate in the Visa Wavier Program and must apply for a visa to enter the United States.

    LD27

    Have only just seen this thread which might have caused a few sleepless nights! Renewed my passport last week and applied for new ESTA this morning. Came through within an hour. Applied for previous ESTA in May. No issues then or on entry. Quickest ever US immigration experience. First off plane and through in 5 minutes where luggage was already on the belt. The list on application form today definitely did not include Cuba – just the 8 countries listed on gov.uk website. Have had 5 ESTAs in last 10 years and there were 3 entry and exit stamps for Havana in my last passport. No questions have ever been asked about Cuba. Will know if there’s an issue later this week!

    points_worrier

    Applying for esta (or getting it) does not mean it is valid. The decision is made when you are at immigration. The stories online are people getting picked up and their ESTA revoked at immigration.

    John

    You definitely don’t want to get on the wrong side of CBP. Even if you’re just transiting to Latin America or something, they will send you back to the country you were last in, instead of using common sense and letting you go onward – even if your onward flight is to the UK

    yorkieflyer

    It’s on the Q&A on the ESTA web site if anyone still doubts the story. An ESTA is self certified in effect and entry only granted at Immigration, if they see your Cuba entry exit stamps you will likely be denied entry, returned and denied future visa’s.

    davefl

    Darn, there goes my plan to do Miami-Havana and back as a cheap avios redemption then.

    yorkieflyer

    Love some of the comments to Simons article e.g.UsA has coveniently forgotten how it supported the IRA. And anyway..who would want to visit a country full of lunatics. Much nicer places in the world to visit.

    NorthernLass

    Is Cuba still the popular destination it used to be for Europeans on AI packages? I would think there will be a lot more stories circulating about this if so as it would cause a lot of issues. I was contemplating GCM-Havana-GCM at some point but will watch and wait to see what happens with the ESTA situation as we visit/transit the USA quite a bit and don’t really need another layer of bureaucracy!

    Gavin454

    I was affected by this rule when it was first introduced (in 2016?) due to having an Iranian visa in my passport from 2011. Incidentally I also visited Cuba in 2012 but there’s no evidence of this in my passport.

    Back then, getting a visa appointment was not difficult although it took up several hours queuing and waiting inside the embassy. The visa officer who saw me seemed surprised I was applying for a visa! It was a very quick appointment and immediately approved. Now I have a 10-year visa with no need to renew esta during that time, although I have to carry 2 passports to the US now as I renewed my passport this year.

    Not sure what I should do post-2026 if I want to return to the US. Hopefully I can go back to using esta again.

    Alex G

    Applying for esta (or getting it) does not mean it is valid. The decision is made when you are at immigration. The stories online are people getting picked up and their ESTA revoked at immigration.

    Well actually, if you are granted an ESTA it is valid. An ESTA simply gives you permission to travel to the US. When you arrive, you seek permission to enter the US from a CBP officer who using their discretion and following guidance will usually admit you. It is a two stage process. Permission to travel and then permission to enter.

    Same with a Visa. A Visa simply gives you permission to travel to the US. It does not guarantee entry. You apply to enter once you arrive at the CBP checkpoint in the same way that you do with an ESTA.

    The main difference for a tourist once an ESTA or VISA has been granted is that if you hold an ESTA and you are refused admission, there is no formal right to appeal. If you hold a Visa, you can appeal to an Immigration Judge.

    JDB

    @Alex G it’s a little more subtle than that. If you are granted after a visa after any offending stamps/trips, as they have already been reviewed by officials you should have no further issues on that count. If, however, you choose to travel just on an ESTA you risk not being allowed to enter. The risk may be lowish, but CBP are not really people you want to chance this with.

    Alex G

    @Alex G it’s a little more subtle than that. If you are granted after a visa after any offending stamps/trips, as they have already been reviewed by officials you should have no further issues on that count. If, however, you choose to travel just on an ESTA you risk not being allowed to enter. The risk may be lowish, but CBP are not really people you want to chance this with.

    Completely agree. There are other differences as well. Simply wanted to point out that its wrong to suggest the ESTA was invalid in the circumstances above. I think a lot of tourists don’t understand that two stage process, and think that the ESTA, or Visa, gives them a right to enter, when it simply gives them the right to travel.

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