September 9, 2021. 
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

C1 Transit Visa: Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re on your way to another country and you need to pass through the United States, you will need to obtain a U.S. transit visa. In this article, we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding this visa category and we hope they answer any queries you may have. In case you cannot find an answer to your specific question, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to help.

1. What is a transit visa?

The C1 Transit visa is a U.S. nonimmigrant visa intended for aliens who are passing through the United States and are on their way to another country.

2. Are there different types of transit visa other than C1 visa?

Since the U.S. transit visa is issued to people who have to transit through the U.S. for different purposes, there are three different types of this visa: C1, C2, and C3.
Transit C1 visa is mainly issued to foreign citizens traveling to another country who will have a brief layover in the U.S. It is also issued to the crewmembers traveling to the U.S. to join a plane or ship they will work on, in addition to their Crewmember D visa. On the other hand, Transit C2 visa is issued to foreign citizens traveling to the UN Headquarters in New York City or UN officials transiting through the U.S. to reach their final destination. And lastly, Transit C3 visa is issued to foreign government officials who will have a layover in the U.S. in order to reach their destination, where they intend to do governmental or work-related activities.

3. Do I need a visa to transit through the U.S.?

In most cases yes, you do need a transit visa to pass through the U.S., with the following exceptions:

  • you are a national of one of the 38 countries under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program,
  • you have another type of a U.S. visa which is still valid,
  • you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda.
4. How long can I stay in the U.S. with a transit visa?

With a transit visa, you can stay in the U.S. for a maximum of 29 days.

5. How long will it take to get my transit visa?

The processing time of a U.S. transit visa is typically five working days minimum. If it takes longer, it’s not a reason to be concerned—the Embassy will inform you on the status of your visa application soon.

6. How do I get a transit visa?

In order to apply for a transit visa, you need to submit an online application with the DS-160 form, pay the fees, provide additional documents, and attend an interview. No need to worry about the complex procedures and requirements, all while trying to handle everything by yourself—we’re here to provide online support 24/7.

7. Do I need a transit visa for my connecting flight in the USA?

Yes, you do need a transit visa when you're having a layover in the U.S. to catch a flight or take a boat to reach your final destination.

8. Do I need a visa even if I don’t plan to leave the airport?

Yes, you need a transit visa if you only plan to catch a connecting flight, without leaving the airport.

9. Can I seek an extension of stay in the country?

No, you cannot seek an extension of stay in the U.S. with the C1 visa.

10. Can I travel around or visit my family in the U.S. on this visa?

A transit visa does not allow you to visit your family or friends or go sightseeing. For this purpose, you’ll need a different visa type, which is a B2 tourist visa.

11. Can I work in the U.S. on a transit visa?

No, you cannot seek employment on a transit visa. You’re also not allowed to do business, enroll in a study program, or apply for a green card.

12. What will happen if I don’t have a transit visa?

In case you arrive at the U.S. airport or dock and you don’t have a valid transit visa, you will not be allowed to board your flight or ship.

13. Do I need to attend an interview?

Yes, you will have to attend an interview. The only exception are applicants who are 13 years old or younger, and those applicants who are 80 years old or older.

14. What does the interview look like?

During the visa interview the Consular Officer will ask you about your travel plans and make sure that everything is in accordance with the rules and regulations. They will want to see that you have strong ties to your home country as well as the travel plans for your travel destination. Any indication that there might be an immigrant intent will have a negative impact on your case.

15. My family is also traveling with me, do they need visas as well?

If someone else is accompanying you on your trip, they will also need a transit visa and a separate petition since there are no dependents for this visa type.

16. Can I buy a travel ticket before I am issued a transit visa?

It is recommended that you don't purchase tickets if your transit visa hasn’t been issued yet.

17. Can a transit visa be denied?

In some cases, your transit visa can be denied for different reasons: inadequate financial resources to cover the expenses of your travel, previous visa denials, or immigrant intent. Click here to read more about the most common reasons for visa denial.

18. Can I apply for an ESTA instead?

Whether you can apply for an ESTA instead of a transit visa depends on your country of residence. Your country needs to be in the Visa Waiver Program, which makes you qualify for a visa-free travel.

Contact VisaExpress today, and get your much-needed online support for a 12-month period. Once you obtain your C1 visa, you can have a layover in the U.S. or join a ship or plane where you’ll work as a crewmember.


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