Transit visa type C

Within the wide variety of visas of the U.S. immigration system we find the type C transit visa. This visa allows foreigners to enter the United States and remain in the territory for a short period of time. It is ideal for travelers whose final destination is another country but want to take a short break.

This type of non-immigrant visa is requested by people who do not have a visa B1 and B2. Business and tourism visa holders, respectively, do not need a transit visa to stay in the U.S. Neither do those who benefit from the visa waiver program.

US transit visas are classified into three types: C1, C2 and C3 visas. Each of them is issued according to the person requesting them. In general, these visas allow for short stopovers in the United States before embarking on a plane or boat trip.


Los Angeles immigration lawyers at Lluis Law are specialists in all types of visas for the United States. If you need to process a visa or have questions about any other immigration matter, call us and we will offer you a free consultation.

General transit visa type C requirements

Only people who meet the following conditions are eligible for a Type C transit visa to the United States:

  • Being a foreigner in need of entering the U.S. exclusively by transit, en route to a final destination.
  • Be a foreigner or UN official who participates in UN activities at its New York headquarters.
  • Being a foreign government official who needs to go through the USA and then continue on his way to another destination.

If your activity is not limited to any of these premises, you cannot apply for a Type C transit visa. Although the C visa also includes the applicant’s spouse and children, each must obtain the visa separately. Even if it is a underage without a passport, because it is included in that of one of its parents.

How can I apply to the C1 transit visa?

The processing of a transit visa is similar to that of other visas. To apply for a transit visa to travel to the USA you must follow the steps below:

type C visa
  • Fill out form DS-160. Then print the confirmation sheet containing the barcode.
  • If this is your first time applying, you must create an applicant profile. In addition, read the application conditions very well, especially those related to children and the elderly. Some consulates do not require the presence of underage and the elderly during the interview.
  • In some countries, such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Argentina, biometric data is collected before the interview. While in other countries it is done the same day of the interview with the consular officer.
  • Pay the corresponding application fee for a transit visa.
  • Schedule an interview at your country’s embassy or consulate.
  • Send the documents required for the issuance of this type of visa.
  • Attend the interview on the day and at the scheduled time.

What documents can I present to prove my personal situation and the purpose of my visit?

If you have your old passport or seaman’s document, even if it is expired, you can present it. This will show that you have traveled to other countries and that you have always returned to your ship or airline. If it is not your first visit to the United States, the previous U.S. visa document will help you in this regard.

To prove your identity, you must present an original or certified copy of your birth certificate or voter registration. You can also submit the following documents:

  • Bank balances and tax returns to check your financial situation and economic self-sufficiency to remain in the USA.
  • Credential as a pilot or officer on a boat, title or professional license (doctor / nurse for example).
  • Proof of employment of the airline or shipping company for which you work.
  • If possible, bring a copy of the travel itinerary and / or hotel reservation.

Types of transit visas

C-1, C-2, C-3 visas

A type C visa does not allow you to stay in the USA any longer than approved by the government. With this visa it is not possible to carry out tourist or business activities within the country. Transit visas for the United States are classified into three types:

C-1 visas

It is a general transit visa that is issued to all eligible foreigners. It is used to carry out a short stopover during the journey to a final destination. It is requested by members of a crew of airlines or sea vessels that must stay a few days in the USA.

The C-1 visa allows passengers and crew members to disembark or board and obtain supplies while they wait. In the meantime, they can visit tourist attractions or family and friends while the break lasts before continuing the trip. Type C-1 visas expire soon since they are valid just for some days.

Documents required for the C-1 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page (Form DS-160).
  • Interview confirmation letter at the consulate.
  • Applicant’s photograph.
  • Receipts of payment of the visa fee.
  • Authorization to enter the country of final destination.
  • Ticket / travel itinerary to final destination.
  • Letter specifying the purpose of the visit to the final destination.
  • Evidence of financial capacity to cover living expenses.
  • Proof that your intention to return to the country of residence. For example, property titles, investments and so on.
  • HIV positive people need a medical record indicating the risks associated with the disease. In addition to having health insurance with international coverage.
  • If the person was previously arrested in the United States, they must submit a letter giving details of the case. Whether she has been convicted or not.

Who does not need a C-1 transit visa?

Foreigners who come to the USA in transit and stop in any city do not need a C-1 visa if they are:

  • Permanent residents in the United States.
  • Holders of a valid tourist visa.
  • Foreign citizens of a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver Program.

People who fall into the latter category do not need a visa to enter the United States. However, they must request the electronic authorization called ESTA. The beneficiaries of this program in Latin America are the citizens of Chile and Spain.

Who can apply for the C-1 visa?

Firstly, all foreigners, except those mentioned above, who operate or provide services on airplanes or boats. For example, flight crews: pilots, co-pilots, and flight attendants on commercial and private airlines.

Similarly, members of a ship’s crew (cruise ships, merchant ships) as operators and support personnel. Eg captains, helpers, boat personnel and so on.

C-2 visa

It is a type of visa necessary for foreign citizens traveling to the US to participate in UN activities. Since the headquarters of the United Nations Organization is in New York, this visa is required. The C-2 visa is requested by diplomatic personnel and other officials from foreign countries.

This visa also has a limited range, since it only allows the holder to enter the USA for a certain activity. In this case, only being around the United Nations headquarters and its surroundings during the validity period of the visa.

Documents required for the C-2 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page (Form DS-160).
  • Applicant’s photograph.
  • UN officials transit through the United States must present authorization to enter the final destination.

C-3 visa

It is a transit visa that is issued to representatives of a foreign government traveling to the United States. It is used to make a stopover in the country on the way to another final destination. The applicant must demonstrate that his / her purpose of travel is for a government or work related activity.

Documents required for the C-3 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page (Form DS-160).
  • Applicant’s photograph.
  • Receipt of payment of the fee.
  • Proof that you are authorized to enter the country of final destination.
  • Itinerary / ticket to the final destination.
  • Financial solvency test to cover living expenses in the USA
  • Letter indicating the purpose of the visit to the final destination.

How long does a transit visa type C for the USA take to process?

Currently all visas to the United States are taking longer than usual. Its processing will depend on the workload of the United States Consulate or Embassy. The more applications there are, the longer the visa will take to process.

Although, the transit visa is issued in a shorter period than any other visa. From the sending of the request, until receiving a response, it can take at least 5 business days. But it could take much longer for the embassy to respond if the visa was approved or denied.

If you need the transit visa only to stay at the United States airport, you do not need to explain further. Saying the name of the airport that also appears on the air ticket is enough. When the visa is granted, the US embassy can send your documents to the address of the airport you indicated. There an immigration officer will be waiting for you when you arrive.

Visa of passage through the United States

How much does a transit visa for the United States cost?

The application for a type C visa has a fee of $ 160. After paying this fee, you must keep the receipt, as it will be requested later during the application process. For the C-2 visa there are no charges or fees for its issuance because other countries do not charge it either.

For how long is a transit visa valid for?

Since your stay within the US is very short, the validity time of the C visa is also short. All C transit visas (C-1, C-2 and C-3) have a maximum validity time of 29 days. Sometimes it may be valid until the date of departure from the United States.

Restrictions for transit visas

In addition to being limited only to certain places. That is, the port, airport, the UN headquarters or its surroundings, other restrictions apply. Holders of a C visa cannot:

  • Remain in the United States for longer than allowed.
  • Travel or study within the country.
  • Work as an employee in the United States.
  • Nor is it a type of visa that supports an extension such as tourism and business visas.
  • Apply for adjustment of status.
  • Apply for and obtain the Green Card.

What is the difference between a C-1 visa and a D visa?

The D visa is also granted to members of a US air or sea crew. The difference is that these people are part the staff of an airline or shipping company, whose base of operation is the United States. Therefore, they must enter the country to join the rest of the staff.

Companies operating from the United States require regular travel to the country to purchase supplies. In other situations is due to the company that carries out commercial transactions or must frequently transport cargo from or to the United States.

When an aircraft or vessel is being repaired in the USA, its crew members also need to travel to the U.S. when it is delivered. They do not necessarily have to be employees of a U.S. multinational company with foreign employees. Employees may have been hired in another country.

crewmember visa type D

You can read everything you need to know about the crewmember visa type D in our dedicated page.

Frequently asked questions about the transit visa type C

Now we will answer some of the most recurring questions about these visas. Remember that you can also ask your own questions by calling us directly to our office.

What if I have had a C-1 visa before?

A prior C-1 visa issued for a previous visit to the United States will be helpful to you. This can help demonstrate that the purpose of your visit in the past was also temporary. Even if the visa has expired, it will help you show that you do not plan to stay in the United States.

Another benefit is that you will be treated as a renewing applicant (not a first time applicant). It will also be helpful, because you can waive the interview requirement if you have been issued a previously valid visa. If your visa expired within 12 months of applying, you will qualify for the Interview Waiver Program.

What if my previous C-1 visa was canceled or stolen?

The previous visa indicates that you met the requirements to obtain it and qualified to enter the U.S. However, you will need to request it again and attend the interview. The interview requirement must be met.

What circumstances could disqualify me from applying for a C-1 visa?

Here are some of the situations in which a transit visa applicant could be rejected:

  • Having been arrested for a crime while temporarily staying in the United States. For example, a fight in a bar or a crime of possession of marijuana or any other drug.
  • Have been arrested or convicted of having illegally entered the United States previously. Illegal or undocumented entry into the US makes you ineligible to apply for any type of visa.

However, our immigration attorneys can assist you through an I-601 waiver or any other immigration remedy.

What if I previously applied for a C-1 visa but was rejected?

If your previous application for a C-1 visa was previously rejected, you must also apply for an interview. When a visa application is rejected, there is a “214 (b)” entry on the visa. This means that the refusal is final. However, the refusal is not permanent. If your personal circumstances change, you can reapply.

You will be asked why your request was previously rejected. You can expect your documents to be examined more thoroughly. The interview will surely be more intrusive and exploratory regarding the purpose of your visit.


For many people this moment is intimidating. At the Lluis Law firm we prepare applicants for times like these. Even for credible fear interviews during asylum claims.