US Transit Visa

US Transit Visa


If you are from a country which does not participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you will likely need a visa to visit the United States—regardless of how long you intend to stay in the country. Foreigners who are ineligible for the VWP who are seeking to enter America in order to travel to a different country will also need a visa to do so—even if they are not leaving the airport. The US Transit C Visa will allow you to go through the United States in order to get to your final destination. How to apply for Transit Visa is described below:

US Transit Visa Eligibility

You are eligible for a transit visa if you can prove that you are entering the United States only because you need to pass through it in order to get to your final destination (a different country), and that you have no intention of attempting to fulfill any other purpose while on your trip.

US Transit Visa Purposes

  • Acceptable Transit Visa purposes include traveling to:
    • Complete the layover portion of a trip, via plane or ship, to a destination outside of the country (as a passenger) 
    • Come to the country in order to ultimately be employed on a ship docked in US waters
    • Enter the United States in order to visit the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, under the auspices of the UN Headquarters agreement, with the understanding that you will remain in the city throughout your stay.
  • You cannot use a Transit Visa to do the following:
    • Tourism
    • See relatives/friends
    • Visit the country as a worker on a foreign pleasure craft if you plan to spend at least a month in the country
    • Visit the country as a coasting officer

US Transit Visa Validity and Duration of Stay

The traditional maximum duration of a transit visa is 29 days, a period which must exclusively be spent transiting the United States. You must abide by the US Transit visa validity and duration of stay period that is granted to you.

US Transit Visa Categories

Types of Transit Visa for USA travel include the following:

  • US Transit C Visa (Basic Transit Visa)—For travelers from non VWP eligible countries who need to pass through the United States
  • C1/D Visa—This visa combines the C-Transit Visa with the D-Crewmember Visa. The D-Visa is for foreigners employed on commercial international/foreign ships/planes who are performing basic jobs essential to their day-to-day functioning who will be in the US for not more than 29 days. In order to work on a ship/plane with a D-Visa, you may need a Transit Visa in order to come to the United States and work there on a D-Visa. In this case, you should apply for a combination C/D Transit Visa.

Required Documents for US Transit Visa (in general)

DS-160 application form

Confirmation page of this main US Transit Visa application form

Applicant Photo

In color. Taken recently. The size of a passport. Submitted online (unless you are asked to bring a printed out copy to your appointment).  


Issued by your government. Validity period which exceeds your period of stay by half a year.

Payment (and confirmation of payment)

If you pay your US Transit visa application fee before your visa appointment, you should submit your payment receipt as part of your application (i.e. bring it to your appointment). Alternatively, you might be asked to pay for your Transit Visa at your appointment.

Additional documents

Be ready to supply supplemental forms and materials, which support your purpose for travel (transit). In particular, you will likely be told to provide materials which confirm that you are indeed transiting through the country. These include proof of onward travel arrangements through the United States, evidence that you will be granted entry to your final destination once you leave the country. For example, seafarers may be asked to provide written confirmation from the captain of the ship they intend to be employed on as a transiting crewmember), as well as evidence that they can afford their journey and will ultimately leave America when they say they will. 

How to apply for US Transit Visa

How to apply for Transit Visa involves following these steps:

  1. Decide when you need to travel 

    Establish when you need to transit the US and apply in time to meet your original itinerary.

  2. Figure out where to apply

    US Transit Visa applicants who are applying from abroad should apply through a US Embassy or Consulate—usually in their country of residence.

  3. Select your Transit Visa category

    US Transit C Visa (for foreigners seeking transit through the United States) or C-1/D (for crewmembers traveling for work).

  4. Assemble your application

    Fill out (in English) the online DS-160 form. Print out the confirmation page and bring it with you as part of your complete application (which will include all of your basic required and supplemental documents outlined above).

  5. Make your visa interview appointment

    Contact the US Consulate/Embassy (by email/phone) that you identified as your application destination and ask to schedule their next available appointment for your Transit Visa interview. Because it can take a while to get an appointment, you should do this as soon as possible.

  6. Attend your visa appointment

    Fulfill your in person Transit Visa requirements at the US Embassy/Consulate during your Transit Visa interview. This is where you will be asked questions about your trip, have your fingerprints collected, and (depending on where you are applying) pay your visa fees.

  7. Receive a decision

    The Transit Visa processing time usually is immediately after the visa interview. If more time is needed to make a decision on your visa, you will be informed. Most likely, you will know whether your application was successful at the end of your visa appointment.

US Transit Visa Interview

Transit Visa seekers must schedule an interview at their application destination (the US Embassy/Consulate where, as well as being interviewed, they will perform additional in-person Transit Visa requirements)

Visa interviews are conducted with the goal of verifying that an applicant is only seeking to transit through the country (rather than visiting) and will not threaten the security of the US upon entry. Applicants should demonstrate their awareness of the Transit visa terms and conditions and expect to answer questions about their purpose for seeking a transit visa and their final destination.

US Transit Visa Fees

The basic US Transit visa application fee is $160. A visa issuance fee may also be required. 

When to apply for US Transit Visa

You should begin the US Transit Visa application weeks if not months before the date of your transit through the United States. The Transit Visa processing time varies between US Embassies and Consulates, which have different wait times for visa interviews. All applicants need to attend a visa interview, and while some embassies may allow you to schedule one within a week, others may not have availability for months. Because of this, it’s best to contact the US Embassy/Consulate you are applying through to request location-specific information for that visa’s processing time.

Where to apply for US Transit Visa

Apply for your Transit Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country/city.

FAQ about US Transit Visa

What are the types of Transit Visa for USA entry?

The two main types of Transit Visa are the C-Transit Visa and the C/D Transit Visa.

Can I bring dependents on a transit visa?

No. You may not bring family members with you on a Transit Visa.

How long does it take to get a Transit Visa?

The Transit Visa processing time is usually very quick (immediately post visa interview). It can take a while, however, to schedule a visa interview (depending on the schedule of the place you are applying, it could take weeks or sometimes months). Because of this, it could take weeks or months to get a Transit Visa.

What is the US Transit visa application fee?

Most applicants pay a minimum of $160 for their Transit Visa.

Can I use my Transit Visa to do a bit of sight-seeing in the US?

No. You may only use your Transit Visa for the purpose you received it (i.e. to move lawfully and without stopping through the United States).

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