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If you are planning to stop over in the United States, it means that you will have to transit through the country. To do this, you will need a US type C transit visa.

The US transit visa is one of the categories of American visas that allows individuals to entry to the US and stay during a stopover when they are en route to another country. Later, when the flight or ship leaves for your next and final destination, you must leave the country. 

Aliens who have the B1 and B2 visa will not need the type C transit visa, nor will those who benefit from the Visa Waiver Program. Our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles are specialists in all types of visas, call today for a personalized consultation. 


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How to get a US transit visa in 2024? 

To obtain a transit visa for the United States, check the the following steps:

  1. Complete Form DS-160.
  2. Schedule the appointment with the US embassy or consulate.
  3. Pay the corresponding fee before the appointment with the embassy or consulate.
  4. Gather all the required documentation and additional requirements.
  5. Attend the interview.

US transit visas are defined as “C”, but are classified into three types: C1, C2 and C3 visas. Each of them is issued according to the individuals who requests them and their documentation or requirements vary.

Requirements to apply for a US transit visa 

In order to apply for the type C transit visa, you must demonstrate the following requirements:

  • You are a foreign national traveling to another country and will have a short stopover in the US. 
  • The intention in the United States is to undergo immediate and continuous transit through the country.
  • You are a member of a crew traveling to the US as a passenger to join a plane or ship where you will work. 
  • You are a passenger who embarks from a foreign port and is bound for a country other than the US, but during the trip, the vessel arrives at a US port with no intention of disembarking in the country.
  • You are a foreign national who is in continuous and immediate transit through the US to or from United Nations Headquarters. 
type c visa

Requirements to apply for visas type D, C-1 or C-1/D

  • The purpose of your travel in the US is only for transit purposes or as a crew member. 
  • You have evidence that you have sufficient funds for any type of expenses, even if you remain in the US while waiting for your next flight or ship.
  • Your plans are to stay in the country only for a limited time. 
  • You do not intend to receive payments from any source in the US while you remain in the country. Unless you have obtained a temporary work visa, such as the H-2B visa.

US Type C transit visa restrictions

Keep in mind that foreigners who have any category of the type C visa will not be able to do the following:

  • Staying in the United States more than the time allowed.
  • Travel or study within the country.
  • Work as an employee in the United States.
  • It is also not a type of visa that allows an extension like tourist and business visas.
  • Apply for adjustment of status or obtain a Green Card.

Types of transit visas

The type C transit visa has 3 categories, these are:

C-1 Visa: General transit visa

The C-1 visa is issued to foreign nationals transiting through the United States through a stopover en route to their final destination.

This visa also allows passengers and crew members on certain occasions to disembark, embark and obtain supplies while waiting. 

Note: If you are traveling with your family, you will need to apply for a C-1 visa for each accompanying adult and child. The C-1 visa will allow you to transit through the US for a maximum of 29 days in case your connecting flight departs in later days. If so, you can leave the airport and visit the surroundings, go shopping or stay close to the airport while waiting for your connecting flight.

Documents required for the C-1 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page of the DS-160 form.
  • Confirmation letter of the interview at the consulate.
  • Photograph of the applicant. 
  • Visa fee payment receipts.
  • Authorization to enter the country of final destination.
  • Ticket or travel itinerary to the final destination.
  • Letter specifying the purpose of the visit to the final destination.
  • Evidence of financial capacity to cover living expenses.
  • Some proof of your intention to return to the country of origin. 
  • HIV-positive people need a medical certificate indicating the risks associated with the disease. In addition to having medical health insurance with international coverage.
  • If the person was previously arrested in the United States, they must submit a letter providing details of the case. Whether they have been convicted or not.
Visa of passage through the United States

C-2 Visa: For UN transit

Type C-2 is a transit visa for aliens traveling to United Nations (UN) Headquarters or United Nations officials transiting through the US to another destination.

Those people who have this visa can only be in the surrounding area of the UN. However, they have the right to leave the UN headquarters and be around when they leave the US.

Documents required for the C-2 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page (Form DS-160).
  • Photograph of the applicant.
  • UN officials transiting through the United States must submit authorization for entry to the final destination. 

C-3 Visa: For foreign governments

The C-3 visa is granted 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 destination. The applicant must show that their purpose of travel is for a government or business-related activity and not to stay within the US.

Documents required for the C-3 visa

  • Valid passport.
  • Copy of the confirmation page (Form DS-160).
  • Photograph of the applicant.
  • Receipt of fee payment.
  • Proof that you are authorized to enter the country of final destination.
  • Itinerary / ticket to the final destination.
  • Proof of financial solvency to cover expenses of stay in the US.
  • Letter indicating the purpose of the visit to the final destination.

What visas are needed to transit through the United States?

Generally, travelers transiting through the United States to any other country require a valid C-1 visa. Unless they are authorized to transit through the country without the need for a visa, as is the case with the Visa Waiver Program. Here is a summary of them:

  • C-1 : Air or sea passengers.
  • C-1D : Aircrew or Seacrew members. 
  • C-2 : Exclusively for personnel working for the United Nations.
  • C-3 : Senior officials in transit.

Who does not need the C-1 US transit visa?

The C-1 transit visa can only be used to travel to and through the U.S. Individuals who already hold a valid B-1 business or B-2 tourist visa will not need to obtain any other transit visas. non-immigrant to transit through the country. 

In short, those who do not need the C-1 transit visa are:

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

Individuals who are in this last category do not need a visa to enter the US. However, they must request the electronic authorization called ESTA. The beneficiaries of this program in Latin America are the citizens of Chile and Spain.

what is an esta authorization

You can obtain more information about this permit in our section dedicated to the application for an ESTA permit to travel to the United States.

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

The D visa, also known as the D crewmember visa, is issued to members of an air or sea crew in the United States. It differs from a C-1 visa in that it is only available to crew members of a shipping or airline crew.

Ship and aircraft crew members in some cases may only need a D visa. But there are times when they may require a C-1 visa. If so, they can apply for a C-1/D visa, which is a combination of both visas.

How long does it take to process a US transit visa application?

On average, the application for a US visa is usually processed in 3 to 5 weeks. Within this time, you must complete the application for a transit visa and have completed the interview at a US embassy or consulate. 

Please note that all US visas are currently taking longer than usual. Processing will depend on the workload of the US consulate or embassy. The more applications there are, the longer the visa will take to process.

Frequently asked questions about the US transit visa

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

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

If your previous C-1 visa was canceled or stolen, you will need to apply for a new one and appear for the interview at the US consulate or embassy. 

Could I be disqualified from applying for a C-1 visa?

These are some scenarios in which a transit visa applicant could be rejected:  

  • Have been arrested for a crime while temporarily in the United States. 
  • Have been arrested or convicted of having previously entered the United States illegally. Illegal or undocumented entry to the US makes you ineligible to apply for any type of visa.

Our immigration attorneys can help you through an I-601 immigration waiver of inadmissibility or any other immigration resource available to your situation.

How much does a US transit visa cost?

The cost to apply for a transit visa to the United States is $160. However, in addition to the mandatory fee, citizens of some countries must pay an additional fee known as issuance fee, only if approved.

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

If you previously had a C-1 visa for a previous visit to the United States, it may be helpful to you. This is because you can show that the purpose of your visit in the past was temporary. Even if the visa has expired, it will help you prove that you do not intend to stay in the US.

Another benefit is that you will be treated as a renewing applicant and not as a first time applicant. 

How to renew the C1 visa?

Renewing the C1 visa requires the same application process as applying for the first time. Some applicants seeking to renew certain visas may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP). 

This program allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without the need to be interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. However, it is important that you check to see if you may be eligible or if a waiver is available.

Which countries require a transit visa?

The countries that need a transit visa for the United States are all those that do not belong to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or do not have an approved ESTA authorization.

Who needs to interview for a transit visa?

Interviews for a transit visa at a US consulate or embassy are not required for all applicants. It all depends on the age of the applicant to be able to carry out the interview or not. The ages included are:

  • Under 13 years old. They generally do not require a visa.
  • Between 14 and 79 years old. An interview is mandatory.
  • People 80 years or older. They generally do not require an interview.

What can I do if my C-1 visa was denied?

If your previous application for a C-1 visa was denied, you will need to appear for a new interview. When an application for a visa under section 214(b) is denied, it means that you did not demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for a nonimmigrant visa.

For many people this moment is intimidating. At Lluis Law in Los Angeles, we prepare applicants for moments like these. Call now and request a personalized, no-obligation consultation with our team of Immigration Law professionals.


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