The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Carrier Liaison Program has updated the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application and mobile app to incorporate changes related to the designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism on January 12, 2021, making individuals who have been present in Cuba on or after that date ineligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The restriction on VWP travel also applies to individuals who are dual nationals of both a VWP country and Cuba at the time of applying. 

If an ESTA has already been approved and it is later determined that the traveler has been present in Cuba or holds dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba, the ESTA will be revoked. Non-VWP travel to the United States is not barred for travelers affected by the restriction who do not meet exemption criteria, however. DHS said that such travelers can apply for a nonimmigrant visa at any U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Limited exceptions to the VWP travel restrictions include military personnel and government employees who are exempted based on their presence in Cuba if such presence was in order to carry out their official duties for military service in the armed forces of a VWP country or as full-time government employees of a VWP country. There are no exemptions for presence in Cuba on behalf of international organizations or dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba, DHS said.

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