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Forums Other Destination advice No USA ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba since 2011?

  • Travel Strong 262 posts

    IATA / Timatic = “Passengers who have been in Cuba on or after 12 January 2021 are not allowed to enter with an ESTA authorization”

    Numerous anecdotal reports of CBP being contacted and confirming that stamps pre-2021 are not a problem.

    My Cuba (2019) stamps are on the middle page of my passport and would likely have been turned to by CBP on 2 trips this year.

    Alex G 451 posts

    Did you get your ESTA before January 12, 2021?

    Travel Strong 262 posts

    Nope. April 2022.

    MoonBuggy 2 posts

    Official US embassy page confirming that only visits to Cuba on or after Jan 21 2021 are relevant: https://fr.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/

    Travel Strong 262 posts

    Case closed!

    MoonBuggy 2 posts

    Official US embassy page confirming that only visits to Cuba on or after Jan 21 2021 are relevant: https://fr.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/

    Sorry, Jan 12th 2021, not Jan 21st – for anyone reading this later!

    SoloBurr 1 post

    @Travel Strong

    Where did you see the IATA Timatic? I was trying to search for that. Seems pretty conclusive if that is what it says!

    I have found many visa sites that say this too, but obviously the Independent (and the Times), plus some other websites go with 2011…

    It’s a mess!! The ESTA application clearly does NOT mention Cuba at all either, but then the ESTA home page has a confusing link to a FAQ statement with no date specifying when the visa rule will apply, hence people’s confusion.

    I travel to the USA in 3 weeks and have non-refundable hotels all paid for etc. First I heard of this rule today (and I am VERY well travelled). Frankly it’s quite pathetic. I’ve been to the USA multiple times, even after my Cuba trip…all with no issues, and now all of a sudden that is in doubt… 😖

    Obviously it did not stop you, and my visa stamps were in an old passport, so I guess it’s fingers crossed time!

    IATA / Timatic = “Passengers who have been in Cuba on or after 12 January 2021 are not allowed to enter with an ESTA authorization”

    Numerous anecdotal reports of CBP being contacted and confirming that stamps pre-2021 are not a problem.

    My Cuba (2019) stamps are on the middle page of my passport and would likely have been turned to by CBP on 2 trips this year.

    strickers 671 posts
    danh 1 post

    Might be a silk question but the link posted by Moonbuggy is for the US Embassy in France. would this also be the case for travellers from the UK or are the rules different for UK & France.

    freckles 154 posts

    Good news, CBP now confirming that only travellers to Cuba since 12 Jan 2021 are ineligible for ESTA.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/cuba-us-esta-ban-tourists-visa-b2273349.html

    Now, if only prices to/in USA would become more reasonable……

    JonathanC 104 posts

    Does anyone know if travel to Cuba during the time they originally listed as a state sponsor of terrorism affect any future ESTA applications ?

    I’ve been to Cuba in 2014 and in 2016, in 2014 they were on the list, as they had been since 1982 (them removed about a year later), but it wasn’t until 2017 (I think it was) that previous travel to certain other countries disqualifies a traveler from being able to use ESTA Visa Wavier Program, if that’s the only issue

    Either way, you’re screwed if you get a CBP border guard that does everything by the book, although I have read elsewhere that many of them simply don’t care about previous Cuba travel, this maybe because the travel took place before 12th January 2021, although no one mentioned.

    CBP don’t make the situation any easier to understand by mentioning that ‘if you’ve ever been to Cuba, you’ll need to apply for a visa’ then after travellers do some digging, you find that this only applies if travel took place on/after 12th January 2021…

    NorthernLass 7,484 posts

    Is that not what the previous post is about?
    I know a Canadian lady who says travels to Cuba and the US regularly and says she just asks them not to stamp her passport in Cuba! Though I think Canadians have freer travel arrangements with the US than we do.

    JonathanC 104 posts

    Canadians are subject to immigration controls, but for them there’s no ESTA, as far as I’m aware it’s just a case of turning up at the border and asking to come in.

    Whether or not they get questioned about countries they’ve visited previously if it’s one of the countries in question that restricts travel to the US, I don’t know, but no matter how you look at things, Canadians get the easiest visa free travel the US for those who don’t have any right to live there

    freckles 154 posts

    Doesn’t look like ESTA site faq’s have been updated to be clearer, but it’s only travel to Cuba since Jan 2021 that renders you ineligible for the ESTA. Another report from TPG (apologies for linking to ‘rival’ site)
    https://thepointsguy.co.uk/news/cuba-us-tourists-esta-ban-lifted/

    In any event, Cuba doesn’t apparently share travellers details and in many cases doesn’t stamp your passport (mine wasn’t in 2013), so apparently CBP would only know your travel history if you had flown direct from USA to Cuba.

    I’m no expert, but I think you’d be safe enough to use ESTA

    NorthernLass 7,484 posts

    The thing is, if the US authorities found out you had been dishonest, they could very well decide that they can do quite well without you, thank you very much. Absolutely not worth risking IMO. Different for nationalities which don’t need ESTAs or similar and therefore don’t have to make any declarations about where they’ve been.

    JDB 4,332 posts

    The question re travel history in the eligibility section of the ESTA application has been updated to:-

    “Travel history of specific country Have you traveled to or stayed in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, or North Korea since March 1, 2011? Also, have you traveled to or stayed in
    Cuba since January 12, 2021?”

    so as long as you can truthfully answer ‘no’ there isn’t an issue. If you have been to any of those places within the relevant dates and you still select ‘no’ then obviously you do so at your peril.

    JonathanC 104 posts

    Ah they’ve updated the questions asked on ESTA application by the sounds of it…
    When I did a ESTA application in late November that I never fully completed and therefore submitted, it didn’t say anything about previous travel to Cuba at all

    pointsfan 36 posts

    Does anyone know how long the visa from the embassy lasts? I don’t mind spending 130 quid for one that I can use for a few years but am hoping it’s not just for one entry.

    JonathanC 104 posts

    Some people I’ve heard from have got 10 year multiple entry visas, which if you obtain one, is a good option.

    Of course the US aren’t obliged to grant you a visa at all, it’s entirely their decision when the visa expires, how long you’re permitted to stay per visit, and of course what you’re allowed to do there. You will also get questioned each time you seek entry

    Rui N. 830 posts

    Does anyone know how long the visa from the embassy lasts? I don’t mind spending 130 quid for one that I can use for a few years but am hoping it’s not just for one entry.

    They last 10 years and allow for multiple entries. When your current passport expires you need to make sure you keep it, and then you need to show both passports (current and old one with visa) when entering the US.

    can 506 posts

    If I had been to Cuba (or N Korea), upon my return I’d “lose” my UK passport and apply for the US visa with an empty UK passport. So that the dearest CBP officers would waste less of my time. Because visa does not guarantee entry.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,048 posts

    If I had been to Cuba (or N Korea), upon my return I’d “lose” my UK passport and apply for the US visa with an empty UK passport. So that the dearest CBP officers would waste less of my time. Because visa does not guarantee entry.

    So when the officer asks why are you applying for a visa because most UK passport holders don’t need one for the US how do you respond?

    Lying isn’t an option and they know far more about your travel than you think they know.

    can 506 posts

    That’s exactly not what I said.

    Apply for visa because of a Cuba trip. Surrender your old and brand new passports for the US visa. Don’t bother taking your old passport to the US in case it has any indication of your earlier trip.

    That’s why I said my suggestion was to reduce the stress to deal with the border officers. Nothing to do with visa

    I am aware there are databases.

    Rui N. 830 posts

    You specifically mentioned “apply for the US visa with an empty UK passport.” You might have wanted to say “entry in the US with an empty UK passport” but you did not, you mentioned apllying for a visa.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,048 posts

    “You’ve just got a new passport? What happened to your old one? Oh you lost it? Where was that?”

    You think applying for a new UK passport after you’ve “lost” your old one will result in easier US visa interview? It won’t because it opens up all sorts of lines of questions for them to catch you out on.

    They don’t particular object to you visiting Cuba or North Korea but they do object to people being less than open.

    And if you “lose” your passport – because you specifically said that – there are additional hoops to go through to get a new one over and above a normal renewal.

    I once got aggressively questioned at Shannon when I mistakenly gave the wrong month for a previous visit to the US. It was getting so bad I thought I was going to be denied entry.

    The message is don’t mess around with the US border authorities.

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