No USA ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba since 2011?
23rd September 2022 at 20:25freckles 135 posts
Caught a tweet from Simon Calder about having to use full visa to enter USA if you’ve been in Cuba since 201123rd September 2022 at 20:42freckles 135 posts
Somehow managed to post this twice! Apologies23rd September 2022 at 20:49Bill 159 posts
We’ll that’s me and the family NOT going to USA for the foreseeable23rd September 2022 at 20:50cabal of rabid baboons 108 posts
It wasn’t a problem for us in May?23rd September 2022 at 21:14freckles 135 posts
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.23rd September 2022 at 21:23NorthernLass 6,769 posts
I thought even Americans were allowed to visit Cuba now? Or did Trump reverse that?23rd September 2022 at 22:15Lula 195 posts
Went to Cuba in 2011 and 2012. Have had 3 estas since without issue.23rd September 2022 at 22:28cabal of rabid baboons 108 posts
We were in Cuba in 2019 and our ESTA were issued early 2022 for a visit in May 202223rd September 2022 at 22:35JDB 4,184 posts
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?23rd September 2022 at 22:40JDB 4,184 posts
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.25th September 2022 at 21:44LD27 130 posts
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!26th September 2022 at 06:30points_worrier 287 posts
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.26th September 2022 at 06:43John 970 posts
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 UK26th September 2022 at 08:16yorkieflyer 264 posts
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.26th September 2022 at 08:37davefl 1,184 posts
Darn, there goes my plan to do Miami-Havana and back as a cheap avios redemption then.26th September 2022 at 08:51yorkieflyer 264 posts
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.26th September 2022 at 08:56NorthernLass 6,769 posts
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!26th September 2022 at 09:17Gavin454 161 posts
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.26th September 2022 at 11:16Alex G 410 posts
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.26th September 2022 at 11:25JDB 4,184 posts
@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.26th September 2022 at 11:36Alex G 410 posts
@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.26th September 2022 at 14:25freckles 135 posts
Hypothetically speaking, if someone had been to Cuba since 2011 but there is no sign of this in their passport and/or have replaced their passport since, and they apply for and are granted an ESTA, how would USA border staff know they’ve been to Cuba?26th September 2022 at 14:36NorthernLass 6,769 posts
I just assume they know everything (or can find out if they want). It’s not worth gambling, anyway, as if they find out you’ve withheld information they can ban you from entering the US for years to come!26th September 2022 at 15:08Alex G 410 posts
Hypothetically speaking, if someone had been to Cuba since 2011 but there is no sign of this in their passport and/or have replaced their passport since, and they apply for and are granted an ESTA, how would USA border staff know they’ve been to Cuba?
They wouldn’t.26th September 2022 at 15:18Rui N. 842 posts
They probably wouldn’t know, but if they ask you’ll have to tell the truth, otherwise a word of pain could follow (especially if you lie while already in the US, as it can mean prison).
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Etihad Guest changes – tough expiry rules, 75% award cancellation fees, lounge restrictions
New to Head for Points?
Welcome! We’re the UK’s most-read source of business travel, Avios, frequent flyer and hotel loyalty news. Let us improve how you travel. Got any questions? Ask them in our forums.
Latest Forum Posts
- Ihar on Avios stolen – contacting BA?
- Ihar on BA Euroflyer A321
- executiveclubber on Malaysia Business class booking using Avios
- Ihar on Nectar conversion rate changing
- yorkshireRich on A lengthy trip report on my time at the other side of the world
- JenT on Virgin Voyages not returning to Australia later this year
- Colin MacKinnon on Chat thread – Tuesday 27th February
- Shafeez on Tier points issue with BA
- Dragonlady on Virgin Voyages not returning to Australia later this year
- The Savage Squirrel on Nectar conversion rate changing
Check reward flight availability instantly for free!
Booking a luxury hotel?
Our luxury hotel booking service offers you GUARANTEED extra benefits over booking direct. Works with Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, The Ritz Carlton, St Regis and more. We've booked £1.7 million of rooms to date. Click for details.