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US "penalty" for travel to Cuba ?

US "penalty" for travel to Cuba ?

Old Jun 10, 07, 12:02 pm
  #1  
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US "penalty" for travel to Cuba ?

forgive my ignorance here. I'm a US citizen, so I know I'm technically prohibited from visiting Cuba. I know I can get there from other countries (Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica). Does Cuba allow entry to US citizens traveling on vacation ? Upon returning to US, is this actually a big deal with US Customs/Immigration ? I'm fine with the add'l search (I buy my Cuban cigars in Spain), but is this something the US DHS/ICE would prosecute ? Your experiences ?

Just wondering...
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Old Jun 11, 07, 1:54 pm
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U.S. Citizens can go to Cuba but they aren't allowed to spend money there. I guess there's a presumption of guilt that if you went you must have paid for something. A credit card transaction is all they need. Prosecution falls under the Treasury Department, not Immigration, which sends fines of $7,500 if they find out. The fine could be assessed months after you return home - even if your immigration back into the US went smoothly. Here's one article although the internet is full of stories about the risks of travel as well as stories from people who have made the trip successfully.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...5BC0A9679C8B63
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Old Jun 12, 07, 3:21 pm
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I've traveled there from Mexico (Cancun) with no problems whatsoever. I think the requirement is moreso that you cannot spend any monies earned in the US in Cuba, however if you earned the money overseas (perhaps from interest in an offshore bank account), then you could technically spend those monies there.

The process is fairly simple Once you've booked your flight on any number of carriers that fly there (national airline: http://www.cubana.cu/html/ingles/index.asp), and arrive at the airport, you will purchase a tourist visa for USD $15-$20. When passing through customs in Mexico/Canada/etc., they will stamp your tourist visa. Ditto for when leaving Cuba. You then present your US Passport when you arrive in Mexico/Canada/etc. This will ends up with you having two entry visas for that country (Mexico/Canada/etc.) but only one exit, but I imagine that if you have a enough stamps in your passport no one will notice.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 4:27 pm
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Originally Posted by vivrant View Post
The process is fairly simple Once you've booked your flight on any number of carriers that fly there (national airline: http://www.cubana.cu/html/ingles/index.asp), and arrive at the airport, you will purchase a tourist visa for USD $15-$20. When passing through customs in Mexico/Canada/etc., they will stamp your tourist visa. Ditto for when leaving Cuba. You then present your US Passport when you arrive in Mexico/Canada/etc. This will ends up with you having two entry visas for that country (Mexico/Canada/etc.) but only one exit, but I imagine that if you have a enough stamps in your passport no one will notice.

It's a good possibility they wouldn't notice but it is possible. Once when I was leaving Philippines they neglected to stamp my passport. The Immigration officer in DTW noticed and asked about it. I told him I wasn't aware of it and asked, quite frankly, what he expected me to do about it. Of course he had to just say "Welcome back" and send me on my way. Point is, a missing stamp could potentially cause them to ask additional questions. In that case it would be foolish not to tell the truth, and admitting you had taken a trip to Cuba could cause even more questions.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by cynicAAl View Post
forgive my ignorance here. I'm a US citizen, so I know I'm technically prohibited from visiting Cuba. I know I can get there from other countries (Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica). Does Cuba allow entry to US citizens traveling on vacation ? Upon returning to US, is this actually a big deal with US Customs/Immigration ? I'm fine with the add'l search (I buy my Cuban cigars in Spain), but is this something the US DHS/ICE would prosecute ? Your experiences ?

Just wondering...
To be clear, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (under the Trading with the Enemy Act) indicates that you are not legally allowed to spend any money in Cuba or purchase anything (other than a few specific items) from Cuba. It is very unlikely that you will be able to travel to Cuba without violating the law unless you get a specific license to travel there (journalism, religious missions, humanitarian missions, etc.). The source of the money is irrelevant if you are a U.S. citizen.

It is also illegal for you to purchase Cuban cigars, even if you buy them in Spain, Canada or anywhere else. It is the source of the product, not where you purchase it that matters.

Please note that enforcement of the law is another matter about which others can share their experience.
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Old Jun 14, 07, 5:25 pm
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How about children?

Can minor US citizen children travel to Cuba accompanied by non-US citizen parents? I am sure that it's ok for the parents to go by themselves, the U.S. government has nothing to do with it. And on such a trip the non-citizen parents would be spending the money, but the kids would be reaping some of the benefits and would be the culprits for some of the expenses. Would the children or parents get in trouble for such a trip? Any thoughts on this?
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Old Jun 17, 07, 11:19 pm
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Originally Posted by You want to go where? View Post
It is also illegal for you to purchase Cuban cigars, even if you buy them in Spain, Canada or anywhere else. It is the source of the product, not where you purchase it that matters.
In a recent related news story:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp...24&sec=apworld

LOS ANGELES (AP): California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lit a cigar during his trip to Canada this week, but did he break U.S. law?

The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was in Ottawa on Wednesday on his way to the airport when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.


Seems Arnie is no dummie.
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Old May 19, 08, 9:35 pm
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Here's the real deal...

[QUOTE=cynicAAl;7880376]
forgive my ignorance here. I'm a US citizen, so I know I'm technically prohibited from visiting Cuba.
You're not "technically" prohibited; you are prohibited unless you fall into a very small and specific list of legal reasons for travel to Cuba.


I know I can get there from other countries (Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica).
Most Americans trying to get around the rules fly from Cancun, Mexico or northeastern Canada.


Does Cuba allow entry to US citizens traveling on vacation ?
Yes. The embargo is US policy, not Cuba's.



Upon returning to US, is this actually a big deal with US Customs/Immigration ? I'm fine with the add'l search (I buy my Cuban cigars in Spain), but is this something the US DHS/ICE would prosecute ? Your experiences ?
Yes, it is a very big deal to get busted. Many people clear customs back into the USA only to receive a letter months later with a fine of $7,500.

The Cuban sanctions are applied through the Dept. of Treasury, specifically the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), and enforced by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Also, I should note that studies have shown many of the Cuban cigars purchased outside of Cuba are not genuine.

Don't trust people that say you can travel there and, if busted afterwards, claim some hairbrained excuse. Nearly all the exceptions to the sanctions require prior licensure through OFAC and you must be genuine. Therefore, a 'journalist' must actually be a previously published journalist, and a 'student' must be traveling as part of a recognized academic program lasting a certain amount of time (6 week minimum?).
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Old May 19, 08, 9:42 pm
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I should note that studies have shown many of the Cuban cigars purchased outside of Cuba are not genuine.
Even if they are genuine Cubans, they are not worth the effort. The best cigars in the world did come from Cuba before Castro and his henchmen seized all private real property. The best cigar people they had left the country and are now in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and so on.

I was given a Cuban cigar in Nassau once, and it was no better than a 2-3 dollar everyday cigar you can get at any cigar shop.
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Old May 21, 08, 5:24 am
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Originally Posted by cynicAAl View Post
Nearly all the exceptions to the sanctions require prior licensure through OFAC and you must be genuine. Therefore, a 'journalist' must actually be a previously published journalist, and a 'student' must be traveling as part of a recognized academic program lasting a certain amount of time (6 week minimum?).
I agree with dole. I went legally to Cuba on 2002 as a student in a joint program with my school and Global Exchange. I was there for ten days. Even when travelling legally, there are restrictions in place. I couldn't spend more than $176 a day (how anyone could do this in Cuba is beyond me), I could not use any US-drawn credit cards (and thus had to be careful not to run out of money), and there were export limits on what I could carry out.

Cuban immigration is aware of the US embargo and thus will not stamp your passport unless you ask (they'll hesitate even then to make sure you know what you're asking for).

Don't try to claim that you went legally unless you have a letter in hand from the Treasury Department upon reentry. The penalties are quite steep for illegal travel. Apparently thousands of people visit every year, but I wouldn't risk it personally. If anything legal or political happens to you while you're there, or even if you get robbed and thus have no money, you are truly SOL. And I believe the fines range up to $250,000 and five years in prison. YMMV.
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Old May 29, 08, 9:25 am
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And visitors to USA previously traveled to CUBA?

This is the Story: My wife (and myself) spent 4 months in Cuba last year, we are not US citizens. Now we're getting an L1A Temprary Worker Visa to the USA, we have some in-out stamps on our passports without the relevant in-out for Cuba. We dont want to say we were in Cuba, but they may realize as the passports are missing some stamps. What would be worst, saying "we lived in Cuba 4 months" or pray for the inspector not to realize the problem?
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Old May 29, 08, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by quir0z View Post
This is the Story: My wife (and myself) spent 4 months in Cuba last year, we are not US citizens. Now we're getting an L1A Temprary Worker Visa to the USA, we have some in-out stamps on our passports without the relevant in-out for Cuba. We dont want to say we were in Cuba, but they may realize as the passports are missing some stamps. What would be worst, saying "we lived in Cuba 4 months" or pray for the inspector not to realize the problem?
I don't understand. Do you have to fill out a form that requires you to list countries you've previously lived/visited, or to list your prior residences? If so, then I would think you should do that (i.e., don't lie or fraudulently omit). If you're not a U.S. citizen/resident, I don't see why the USG would object to your living in Cuba at some time prior to coming under U.S. law. What specifically is your concern?
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Old May 29, 08, 10:11 am
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Re

Yes, theres is a form DS157 in which I need to write down all visited countries in the last 10 years. I'd rather say the truth. I don't want to risk all the time and effort invested in getting the L1A, but as you saud, it shouldn't be an issue. But we weren't on holidays there, she was working for the same company she will be working for in USA. It will be a lot of explanations on the issue I think...
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Old May 29, 08, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by quir0z View Post
Yes, theres is a form DS157 in which I need to write down all visited countries in the last 10 years. I'd rather say the truth. I don't want to risk all the time and effort invested in getting the L1A, but as you saud, it shouldn't be an issue. But we weren't on holidays there, she was working for the same company she will be working for in USA. It will be a lot of explanations on the issue I think...
If you weren't a U.S. citizen and weren't residing in the U.S. at the time, I'm not sure why you'd fall under the OFAC regulations. The relevant links are here: http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforce...uba/cuba.shtml. Per OFAC, the sanctions apply only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, as well as persons physically in the U.S. If you're not in any of these categories, I don't understand why you'd risk truly harming your ability to get a visa, citizenship, etc., in the U.S. by lying. To your specific point, I don't see why the fact that she worked for a U.S.-based company (or a company with a U.S. presence) is relevant.
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Old May 29, 08, 10:55 am
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Yes, you're right. Maybe there's a lot of myth and fuss going on about the embargo and stuff... and taking into account that fkng chavez is Cuba's Santa's... and guess what, I'm Venezuelan! can you see now?
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