A transit visa is a non-immigrant visa with short validity. You might need a US transit visa to go through the US on the way to another country.
What is a transit visa?
Under the transit visa, a person is allowed to settle in the US for a layover. If the traveler seeks layover advantages for reasons other than for transit, such as visiting friends, he/she will have to qualify for the type of visa required for that purpose.
The following are exempt from transit visas:
- Citizens of countries members of the US Visa Waiver Program (there are currently 39 countries in the program)
- People who hold another type of US visa that is still valid. For example, people with B visas are permitted to transit in the United States.
For the purposes described below, people can apply for a US transit visa:
- A non-US foreign traveler who stays in the US for a short time to reach the final destination in another country, such as a shipping crew (to know about visas for shipping crews, read our article about D visa)
- Non-US government officials who go through the US to enter the destination country for doing their government-related missions (to know about visas for diplomats, read our article about A visa)
- Non-American people or UN officials who go to this organization’s headquarters in New York
This visa cannot be used for the following purposes:
- The traveler who layovers for reasons other than transit, such as visiting friends, must apply for a B visa
- Coasting officers usually require a visitor visa (B) to enter the United States
- A crew on a private boat sailing out of a foreign seaport, which will be cruising in US waters for over 29 days, is usually needed to have a visitor (B) visa.
- An officer of an international organization devoted to the United States may cross in immediate and continuous transit through the United States on a G-4 visa.
If you or your family intend to travel to the US or stay more, you can apply for a B visa.
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What are the US transit visa requirements?
The transit visa is divided into three categories:
- C-1 or general transit visa: This visa is for a non-US foreign traveler who stays in the US for a short time to reach the final destination in another country
- C-2 or UN headquarters transit visa: Non-Americans are arriving at the United Nations headquarters in New York or United Nations officials going through the US to reach a final destination.
- C-3 or foreign government transit visa: Non-US government officials who go through the US to reach the destination country for doing their government-related missions.
How to apply for this visa?
There are several steps to petition for a transit visa. Firstly, the online application form known as DS-160 must be completed. Form DS-160 is available at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. You should also send a photo of yourself when completing this form. A confirmation page will then be sent to you, which is a necessary document, and you must bring it to your interview. Secondly, you should be interviewed at the US Embassy by the Consular Officer. People under the age of 13 and over 80 are not usually interviewed, but generally, the decision of the interview depends on the consular officer’s opinion regardless of age. The waiting time for the interview depends on many factors such as season, visa type, location, and workload of the embassy. So try to arrange an interview appointment as soon as possible. Note that you will receive an interview confirmation letter that you must keep because you will need it later.
Required documents to apply for a US transit visa include:
- Online application form (DS-160) and the confirmation page
- A passport: that has validity for at least six months longer than your probable stay in the US. The passport should also have a blank page for visa entry.
- Evidence that the visa applicant is going to the destination country and is not planning to stay in the US.
- Transit Visa payment receipt
- Details of applicant activity on social networks over the past five years
- Ticket or planned route to your final destination
- A letter indicating your purpose for traveling to the destination country
- The documents demonstrating that the traveler is financially able to support the costs during transit in the United States
- Evidence that the applicant is authorized to enter the country of destination
- If the applicant is HIV positive, he/she should bring a letter from the doctor indicating the health status and risks associated with his / her condition.
- If the applicant has been arrested before in the US, he/she must provide a letter clarifying the offense, the reasons for the arrest, and whether the applicant was convicted or not.
How long does it take to be issued a transit visa?
It will take at least five working days from receiving documents to sending responses, but processing time could be even longer. The time required to process documents depends on various factors, including the embassy’s workload.
How much does it cost to apply for a transit visa?
The visa cost is around $ 160. Keep in mind to save the receipt after paying this fee because you will probably need it later. Depending on your country and the embassy you apply from, additional costs may be required. It should be noted that C-2 visa applicants do not need to pay a visa issuance fee.
What are the restrictions on a transit visa?
A transit visa is not similar to other non-immigrant visas. The holder of the transit visa is not allowed to do the following:
- Stay in the US more than the defined time
- Travel, work, or study in America
- Extending the transit visa
- Apply for a Green Card under the transit Visa
- Having dependents with one transit visa
- Dependents are not allowed to work or study in America
How long can you stay with a transit visa?
The US transit visa validity is usually short. All types of transit visas allow the holder to stay for up to 29 days in the US or until the departure date on the ticket, whichever one is sooner.
Can your dependents come to the United States under a transit visa?
No. All people transiting to the US must have a separate visa.
Let’s sum up…
In this article, we described a transit visa as one of the US non-immigrant visas. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.