USA entry: Restriction for ESTA travelers

Cuba stay leads to rejection at border

Despite ESTA approval, travelers have recently been increasingly turned away at the U.S. border. The reason for this was stays in Cuba within the last few years.

Officially, the U.S. authorities do not include Cuba on the list of countries that may not be visited under the visa waiver program. Nevertheless, ESTA authorizations are currently being refused at US border controls if a travel stamp from Cuba is in the passport, as well as in the case of dual citizenship or a residence permit in Cuba. Also, several people have already had their ESTA authorization revoked by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

No ESTA entry when visiting terrorist-sponsoring countries

The background to this is that Cuba has again been classified by the U.S. as a so-called “State Sponsor of Terrorism” since 2021. Recently, the official ESTA website has included a notice regarding Cuba that travelers who have visited a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” are no longer allowed to enter visa-free with ESTA, but must apply for a visa. Officials note that this affects people who traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021. Travelers are generally advised to apply for a B visa to the U.S. if they have a Cuba stamp in their passport. When doing so, allow sufficient lead time, as it currently takes several weeks to get an interview appointment at the U.S. Consulate.


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