Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Americas > Cuba
Reload this Page >

EU citizen living in the US on a J1 visa visiting Cuba

EU citizen living in the US on a J1 visa visiting Cuba

Old Jun 21, 11, 8:35 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: ORD
Posts: 7
EU citizen living in the US on a J1 visa visiting Cuba

Hello,

I'll be visiting Cuba this summer. I live in the US and I'll fly to the Cayman Islands.

I have a EU passport and I'm on a J1 visa, so technically I am not a resident, I am a visitor. Actually, one time I put on the I-94 form that my country of residence was the US (because I thought they meant the country where I live) and the immigration officer crossed it out and put my EU native country instead. He told me I'm not considered a resident, but rather a visitor.

I have paid everything in the Cayman portion of the trip with my US credit card (airfares, hotels, rental car). But the Cuba portion of the trip I paid with my European credit card issued by a European bank where I have all the money I made in Europe before ever coming to the US. I never transferred any money from my US account to that account, but I don't know if that's relevant.

I will only be using my European credit card in Cuba to withdraw the local currency. My US credit card is not going anywhere outside my wallet while in Cuba (it wouldn't work there anyway).

I don't want to lie on the immigration and customs forms and I'm going to list Cuba as a visited country. What should I expect when clearing (hopefully) immigration at Miami airport?

Thanks!
popcalent is offline  
Old Jun 25, 11, 2:40 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC Aeroplan - Elite Status. DL Skymiles - Regular Status
Posts: 509
If I were you, I would not list Cuba as a visited country.

As a J1 visa holder is considered a non-resident under US immigration law. Therefore, upon your departure from the United States, you are no longer subject to US jurisdiction. You are well within your legal right to visit Cuba.

Also maybe for the future, J and F visas are the only type of visas which render you a non-resident. If you hold a work visa, such as H1B or TN (even though they are non immigrant visas), it classifies you as a US resident.

That being said... Listing Cuba as a place visited upon return to the US will trigger a secondary (most likely). Save yourself the time. In addition, Cuba doesn't stamp passports.
alexb133 is offline  
Old Jun 25, 11, 7:05 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: ORD
Posts: 7
Thank you alexb133 for the information.

There are chances that in the future I move to a H1B visa, so it's good to know that if I want to visit Cuba legally I have to do it before changing my J1 visa.

Even if Cuba doesn't stamp my passport Cayman Islands will. I think they do both entry and exit. So it will we suspicious if I only list the Cayman Islands and I have an entry stamp, then an exit stamp the day after, then an entry stamp the week after, and then an exit stamp the day after.

If the only thing that is going to happen is that I will spend some time at the secondary inspection, and that is 100% the ONLY thing that will happen to me, I might not risk my situation by lying on the customs form. I booked flights with a two and half hour layover and I will be traveling just with a backpack...

Also, everything I buy in Cuba (basically souvenirs, not cigars) I will send to my country in Europe from the Cayman Islands. And this might seem too paranoid, but I will bring an extra SD card to copy all the pictures I take in Cuba and I will send it along with the souvenirs. I will bring no laptop with me.
popcalent is offline  
Old Jun 25, 11, 8:46 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC Aeroplan - Elite Status. DL Skymiles - Regular Status
Posts: 509
Originally Posted by popcalent View Post
Thank you alexb133 for the information.

There are chances that in the future I move to a H1B visa, so it's good to know that if I want to visit Cuba legally I have to do it before changing my J1 visa.

Even if Cuba doesn't stamp my passport Cayman Islands will. I think they do both entry and exit. So it will we suspicious if I only list the Cayman Islands and I have an entry stamp, then an exit stamp the day after, then an entry stamp the week after, and then an exit stamp the day after.

If the only thing that is going to happen is that I will spend some time at the secondary inspection, and that is 100% the ONLY thing that will happen to me, I might not risk my situation by lying on the customs form. I booked flights with a two and half hour layover and I will be traveling just with a backpack...

Also, everything I buy in Cuba (basically souvenirs, not cigars) I will send to my country in Europe from the Cayman Islands. And this might seem too paranoid, but I will bring an extra SD card to copy all the pictures I take in Cuba and I will send it along with the souvenirs. I will bring no laptop with me.
Your welcome, and welcome to FT . ^

Very smart thinking about the Cuban souvenirs. Better to send them to Europe rather than bringing them to the US. Let me know how CBP treats you after they find out you went to Cuba.

BTW where are you going ? We have been to Varadero, and Cayo Coco.
Both beautiful places, and great people!
alexb133 is offline  
Old Jun 26, 11, 7:25 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: ORD
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by alexb133 View Post
Let me know how CBP treats you after they find out you went to Cuba.
I will post it in here so other J-1 visa holders can find it.

Originally Posted by alexb133 View Post
BTW where are you going ? We have been to Varadero, and Cayo Coco.
Both beautiful places, and great people!
I haven't planned yet. I will be a in a casa particular for a week in Havana, and maybe I will ask if there's a day trip that I totally have to do. But the idea is staying in Havana.
popcalent is offline  
Old Jun 26, 11, 11:06 am
  #6  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Canada & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Posts: 49,279
Originally Posted by popcalent View Post
If the only thing that is going to happen is that I will spend some time at the secondary inspection, and that is 100% the ONLY thing that will happen to me, I might not risk my situation by lying on the customs form. I booked flights with a two and half hour layover and I will be traveling just with a backpack...
I would advise against lying on any customs form as the potential downsides are too steep to consider, at least IMHO, and just aren't worth it.

FWIW Having seen some of rural Cuba if you can I'd encourage you to explore the countryside and other centers such as Cienfuegos or Trinidad. Those are a fair distance away from Habana so would also recommend the province closer to the capital, Pinar Del Rio, as worth a visit for it's natural beauty. This provice forms the western end of Cuba and is IMHO an overlooked gem.
tcook052 is offline  
Old Jun 26, 11, 9:01 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: ORD
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by tcook052 View Post
I would advise against lying on any customs form as the potential downsides are too steep to consider, at least IMHO, and just aren't worth it.
Sorry, I meant to say that I WILL NOT risk my situation by lying. In fact, I'm so sure about not lying that I'm thinking about getting my passport stamped in Cuba just to have the stamp as a souvenir.

By the way, thanks for the suggestions. I will inquire about going to Pinar del Río.

Last edited by popcalent; Jun 26, 11 at 9:02 pm Reason: forgot something
popcalent is offline  
Old Jun 26, 11, 9:44 pm
  #8  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Canada & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Posts: 49,279
Originally Posted by popcalent View Post
Sorry, I meant to say that I WILL NOT risk my situation by lying. In fact, I'm so sure about not lying that I'm thinking about getting my passport stamped in Cuba just to have the stamp as a souvenir.
Well, I'm not sure I'd go that far but the choice is yours to make. That stamp could cause many questions later so I'd skip it but that's MHO.

By the way, thanks for the suggestions. I will inquire about going to Pinar del Río.
You are welcome. Habana is a must-see but if you do have some time and can escape the city I would recommend seizing the day, so to speak.
tcook052 is offline  
Old Jun 27, 11, 8:13 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: los angeles, calif.
Programs: AAdvantage PLAT
Posts: 7,096
Americans visit Cuba by the hundreds of thousands every year illegally. Nobody gets in trouble for it. Cuban immigration officials don't stamp American passports and Cuba welcomes Americans with open arms. If you don't want to lie, then simply don't go (unless the terms of your visa allow you to legally go).

America actually is Cuba's second largest source of tourists after Canada, and that figure only includes Americans that come legally.
MAH4546 is offline  
Old Jun 28, 11, 6:40 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC Aeroplan - Elite Status. DL Skymiles - Regular Status
Posts: 509
Originally Posted by MAH4546 View Post
Americans visit Cuba by the hundreds of thousands every year illegally. Nobody gets in trouble for it. Cuban immigration officials don't stamp American passports and Cuba welcomes Americans with open arms. If you don't want to lie, then simply don't go (unless the terms of your visa allow you to legally go).

America actually is Cuba's second largest source of tourists after Canada, and that figure only includes Americans that come legally.
Yeah, I agree with MAH. Upon your return to the US, I would not list Cuba as a visited country if I were you. Even though your visa terms allow for that, it doesn't mean they won't give you a hard time. You are going to be sent to secondary, they will do all standard bag searches and question you. If you plan to do that, at least choose a longer layover.

Now you stated you'll clear CBP in Miami.. Granted, they should be more familiar with Cuban travel than any other POE.
alexb133 is offline  
Old Jun 29, 11, 5:41 pm
  #11  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan, Canada & Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: YEG
Posts: 49,279
Originally Posted by MAH4546 View Post
America actually is Cuba's second largest source of tourists after Canada, and that figure only includes Americans that come legally.
Not that I doubt you but do you have any reference for that stat.? I would've thought EU visitors would've been ahead of "legal" U.S. visitors but couldn't find any really recent numbers beyond this note on U.S. State Department from a few years back:

Roughly 1.7 million tourists visited Cuba in 2001, generating about $1.85 billion in gross revenues; in 2003, the number rose to 1.9 million tourists, predominantly from Canada and the European Union (EU), generating revenue of $2.1 billion.
tcook052 is offline  
Old Jul 2, 11, 7:48 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Programs: statusless these days
Posts: 19,727
I'd imagine the bulk of U.S. visit to Cuba is for family purposes, not tourism or business.

The new changes, which come on top of loosened restrictions for Cubans and Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in Cuba, are expected to push the number of travelers visiting Cuba this year to 450,000 this year. “We estimate 375,000 to 400,000 Cuban Americans will visit this year and another 50,000 in other categories of legal travel,” said Mr. Guild of Marazul.
http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/07/10...-cuba.html?hpw
YVR Cockroach is offline  
Old Aug 19, 13, 12:34 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Programs: Fulbright, J1, U.S. Airways Dividend Miles
Posts: 1
Cuba on J1

Popcalent, please post what happened!

I am attempting the same thing and I am sure lots of others are looking for answers too!

Thanks so much!
kbuchholz is offline  
Old Oct 15, 13, 1:25 pm
  #14  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, TAP, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and The Suggestion Box
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: NorCal - SMF area
Programs: AA LT Plat; HH LT Diamond, Maître-plongeur des Muccis
Posts: 62,269
Normally, your arrival stamp would be placed on your Cuba Visa, a two-section document you would keep half of and turn in upon departure. (However - on exiting Cuba 17 Nov 2013 my U S Passport was stamped with an exit stamp - on two different pages.) (I wrote in the OFAC license information directly under each exit stamp for USCBP and passport renewal ease.)

Good idea on disclosing to USCBP you have been to Cuba; it is legal for you. You can not bring anything from Cuba to the USA legally, other than informational / educational material (CDs, DVDs, books) and art.

Lying or omitting the information you had visited Cuba on your return to the US on your Customs Declaration is considered a violation of U S Code 18 Section 1001:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
Not recommended; ask Martha Stewart, Bernard Madoff and other prominent figures. Particularly if you do not want to lose your J1 visa. And I suspect anyone believing the information is not available to the U S Government is naive and hasn't heard of Edward Snowden (or the CIA, which has been able to acquire such information easily from some other nations' government employees). The U S Government may have chosen not to prosecute (or persecute), but they can.

As to
Originally Posted by MAH4546 View Post
Americans visit Cuba by the hundreds of thousands every year illegally. Nobody gets in trouble for it. Cuban immigration officials don't stamp American passports and Cuba welcomes Americans with open arms. If you don't want to lie, then simply don't go (unless the terms of your visa allow you to legally go).

America actually is Cuba's second largest source of tourists after Canada, and that figure only includes Americans that come legally.
That is seriously incorrect; I know people who have been fined thousands of dollars for visiting Cuba "through t he back door" (Mexico and Canada). OFAC / Treasury provides some significant sanctions and staying longer than one day is considered prima facie evidence of violating OFAC (spending U S Dollars in Cuba) - they did not get the most severe penalties, up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, plus $65,000 in civil penalties (31 C.F.R. Part 515), but they did pay thousands for their travel and will not qualify for Global Entry, etc. People are free to incur risk, but they should know what those risks are, IMO.

Just one example - they can take their time about it, and a majority escape sanctions, but...

Originally Posted by USA Today (in part)
In the latest twist to the USA's 50-year-old trade sanctions against communist Cuba, a New York man has agreed to pay a $6,500 fine to end a long-running dispute with the U.S. Treasury Department over an unauthorized trip he made to the Caribbean "isla non grata" as a tourist 14 years ago.

Zachary Sanders, now 38, had been living and teaching English in Mexico when he decided to visit Cuba for a couple of weeks in 1998. According to Reuters, Sanders did not obtain the required U.S. Treasury license, and a U.S. Customs agent became suspicious when Sanders returned to the United States through the Bahamas without declaring he had been to Cuba.
I've posted a "sticky" with current requirements for U S Citizens and Residents who wish to visit Cuba.

By the way, Spain and Canada are the two largest sources of tourists to Cuba, according to Cuban sources.

Last edited by JDiver; Dec 5, 13 at 9:01 pm Reason: update with exit stamp information
JDiver is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: