US Transit Visa Tips

US Transit Visa Tips

Because there are various reasons a person might need to travel to the United States, the US government provides different types of visa according to the applicant’s specific needs. Each visa has its requirements and nuances, such as the period of stay and rights it grants you, all of which are tailored to your reason for a visit.

One kind of US visa is the C-1 transit visa.

Who needs a C-1 transit visa?

As implied in the name, a C-1 visa is required for persons traveling to the United States for immediate and continuous transit, en route to another country, with few exceptions. Obviously, it is a nonimmigrant visa, and it doesn’t grant you the right to visit the US for tourism purposes. Should you want to get out of your place of transit to sightsee, you will have to possess a tourist visa.

Among others, these are the people who need a C-1 visa to enter the US:

  • Foreign citizens traveling internationally, with a brief layover or transit in a US airport;

  • Foreign ship passengers embarking from a foreign port, and the vessel does not have the intention of landing in the US;

  • Foreign crewmembers traveling as passengers to the US to work in ships or aircrafts. In this case, a crewmember visa will also be needed.

Visa waiver: you might actually not need a C-1 visa

If you are a citizen of certain countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program with the United States, you might not need to apply for a C-1 visa. You will need to have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which grants you the right to travel the United States for a maximum of 90 days. If you still want to have a visa, you can apply according to your needs.

Countries in the visa waiver program include countries in the European Union such as Germany, Belgium, and Italy, non-EU Schengen countries like Switzerland and Norway, the United Kingdom, and several Asian states like South Korea and Brunei.


Where would we be without our documents? Here are the required documents for a C-1 visa application:

  • Your valid passport;

  • Completed DS-160 application form;

  • Tickets to your destination (to prove that the US is not your final destination);

  • Visa needed to enter your destination, if such is required (to prove that you will not be stuck in transit, take care to get this visa before applying for a C-1 visa);

  • US visa photo that fulfills the parameters;

  • Receipt of consular fee payment.

Make sure to be thorough with your documentation package to increase your chances of a successful visa application.

Extra documentation

Besides the core documents needed to apply, the US embassy or consulate reserves the right to demand additional documents. Generally, these documents are necessary to prove the following:

  • Your intent to not remain in the US for purposes other than a transfer, and to indeed depart the US to travel to another country;

  • Your financial ability to fund yourself while in the US;

  • Residence in your home country and intent to return.

To prove your intent to travel further after your transit in the US, usually the embassy or consulate will ask to show your travel arrangements and related documents. To prove financial ability, you might be asked to show your financial records or evidence that another person will financially cover your transit. Proof of employment and/or familial ties can be used to prove residence and intent to return.

Processing time

The C-1 visa processing time depends on your local embassy or consulate workload, but it generally ranges between three to five business days, with a maximum of two weeks. While you are waiting, do not rush to make your travel arrangements, because…

Is US visa acceptance guaranteed?

C-1 visa acceptance is not guaranteed. This is also why you should prepare your documents as thoroughly as possible. While the US Department of State states that most visa applications are accepted, there are various grounds on which a visa application might be denied. The consular fee you paid for the visa application is not refundable.

Suggested Read: Tourist Visa

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.