ESTA & Cuba: Eligibility Questions Updated with Cuba Travel & Dual Nationality
With effect from July 6, 2023, the US ESTA application form has been updated to question applicants about prior travel to Cuba and dual Cuban nationality.
With ESTA authorization, nationals of certain countries are permitted to travel to the US visa-free travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for stays of up to 90 days for business or tourism. However, travelers must meet the ESTA eligibility requirements.
The US designation in January 2021 of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism mean that travelers who either have been to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, (unless exempt as a military personnel or government employee), or had dual nationality with Cuba at the time of their ESTA application, are disqualified from visa-free travel to the USA under the VWP.
Those travelers affected by the Cuba-related eligbility rules must instead apply for a relevant visa, typically the B visitor visa, to travel to the USA.
How does the new Cuba ineligibility question affect travelers?
Travelers with existing ESTA authorization
If you already have ESTA authorization but you have previoulsy traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, your ESTA authorization will be revoked. Since you are no longer eligible for visa-free travel, you must instead apply for a visa.
Travelers with Cuban / US dual nationality
ESTA authorization has been revoked for those with dual nationality with Cuba. To travel to the US, you would need to apply for a visa.
If your ESTA has been revoked
Travelers with existing ESTA authorization are advised to review their status in light of the updated guidance on the official CBP ESTA website and to take professional advice on their circumstances and options.
If your ESTA authroization has been revoked due to a Cuba-related disqualification, and you do not secure alternative permission to travel, you may be refused entry at the US border.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.