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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Passport Rules

Treasure Island in the foreground,
Mainland Cuba in the background.
The kids are going to Cuba to visit Osmany's folks over Christmas. They have been planning this trip for months, looking for airline tickets they can afford that won't have them spending umpteen hours in Atlanta, arranging for accommodations, travel to Treasure Island, deciding what to take and figuring out how to pack it all into bags that won't incur an excess weight penalty. We're looking good with only a week until departure and then dutiful daughter gets red flagged on her passport.
    It seems that if you are going to Cuba, you need to have two, full, blank pages in your passport. Daring daughter has used the stuffing out of her passport and if you combined all the blank spots that are left you might get two pages, but that won't cut it. So she needs a new passport.
    She might be able to get one if she drives up to Seattle and pleads her case. And then we might have to drive back a second time to pick it up. No telling. Plus, you need an appointment. Would she even be able to get an appointment? Once again, no idea.
     There is an outfit that claims to be able to get your passport renewed in one day, but they charge $300, and that is on top of whatever the government wants, which is somewhere north of $100. I hate being put over a barrel like this, but it might be the best solution. I'm wondering how they are able to do this, and then I realized that the appointment might be the gating factor. If they book an appointment every day then they can be sure of getting in. So their business model is basically paying for one person to hang around passport central all the time. Or maybe they split their take with the secretary of passport control and he sees that their clients get taken care of. Who knows? In any case, it's a stink load of money for something we shouldn't have to pay for at all, but like I said, this new rule has got us over a barrel.
    On the other side, if you count the missed time from work and the time and effort to drive to Seattle (possibly twice), the $300 begins to look almost reasonable.

P.S. No glasses in your passport photos anymore. Another new rule. I'm thinking we need a subscription service to tell us whenever they make a new rule, which seems to be every couple of months ever since Homeland Security took over.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chuck,

I followed your link and found this:

Tourist travel to Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and others subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

Is it just me, or is that a completely contradictory statement? I assume you are talking about your daughter; is she not a US citizen?

Or would my English professor have written it thusly?:

Tourist travel to Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and others subject to U.S. jurisdiction, unless in possession of a tourist visa.

Does your daughter need a visa? Does she have one?


Chuck Pergiel said...

Yes, we have no bananas. Have I gotten acustomed to newspeak? I saw that and just glossed right over it. Dubious daughter sets me straight:

It is prohibited unless you fall under a certain category (there are 12). The tourist visa is a requirement of the Cuban government, whether or not you are there as a "tourist."
Before this year, you would just get a card/piece of paper (tourist card) upon arrival that you had to hold on to until you left. Now, they put an actual visa in your passport though I'm unsure if it's done at the airport before departure or upon arrival in Cuba.

I suspect she falls into one of the 12 mystery categories on account of being married to a Cuban.

Anonymous said...

This might help:

I love the last paragraph:

There is one category of Cuba travel that is not allowed.

1. Starting a missile crisis

Absolutely do not go to Cuba if you intend to start a missile crisis!

But seriously, actually, straight-ahead tourist travel to Cuba is still not permitted.


Chuck Pergiel said...

It's kind of weird. You can book a flight to Cuba and if your passport passes muster, the airline will take you there. What happens when you get back to the USA is another matter, and it is not really clear just what they are checking for, if anything. Maybe everyone who comes back gets sent to the Gulag.