If you’re traveling abroad and learn that you have a layover in the United States of America (USA), you may need a US Transit Visa. The US transit visa is known as C-visas and these visas allow you to enter the United States and stay as long as your layover requires.

The C1 Transit Visa is a non-immigrant visa (temporary) that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States while transiting to another foreign country. This visa will not allow you to stay in the US. If you wish to visit the US you should see if you are eligible to apply for a Visitor Visa. Also, if you already have a valid Visitor US Visa (B1/B2), you may be able to use it to transit the United States. Each person transiting the US, including children, require a visa.

Types of Transit Visas

1.C-1 General Transit Visa

You will need a C-1 General Transit Visa if:

  • You are travelling to another country and have a brief layover in the US which requires you to enter the country to continue travelling to your final destination.
  • You are a passenger on a ship which makes port in the US on its way to another country.

2. C-1/D Combination Transit/ Crew Member Visa

If you are a crewmember traveling to the US as a passenger to join a ship or aircraft you will likely need a combination C-1/D visa. These visas are issued to:

  • Pilots and flight attendants on commercial airplanes
  • Captains, engineers and deckhands on sea vessels
  • Lifeguards, cooks, waiters, beauticians or other service staff on cruise ships
  • Trainees on board training vessels

3. C-2 U.N. Transit Visa

You will need a C-2 Diplomatic Transit Visa if you will be traveling through the US directly to or from the United Nations (UN) Headquarters, located in New York City. C-2 visa holders are not allowed to travel beyond the New York City area.

4. C-3 Diplomatic Visas

C-3 visas are for foreign representatives (like ambassadors, diplomats or consuls) who are passing through the US on their way to another country.

Also Read: Tips to get US Visa for Indians

If you do not fit into one of these categories, you are not eligible for a C transit visa. Also, C visas do not have dependent visas. If you are traveling with family members, you must all have individual C visas.

Eligibility for the C1 Transit Visa:

  • You only intend to pass through the US for immediate and continuous transit;
  • You possess a ticket or other proof of transportation to reach the final destination;
  • Must have sufficient funds to reach your final destination;
  • Upon applying for a transit visa, flight reservations and other valid visas to a third country must be already made.

Documents required for the visa application:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160
  • Valid Passport
  • Photographs
  • Evidence with a legitimate reason to pass through the US to another country. The evidence you need to present, depends on the individual circumstances of the proposed travel; and any documentation to support this travel will be considered
  • Ticket or other evidence: A transit visa applicant must be in possession of a common carrier ticket or other evidence of transportation arrangements to their destination
  • Evidence of permission to enter another country: A transit visa applicant must either have a valid visa to the onward destination or evidence that a visa is not required
  • Evidence of sufficient funds: Applicants should present financial documents that show they have adequate funds to cover the cost of their transit journey
  • Strong evidence of returning to own country or another country after the stay in the USA (including a property deed, apartment lease or any other proof)

Extension of stay on C1 visa:

A C1 Visa does not allows you to extend your stay. If you want to extend your stay you should apply for a US Visitor Visa.

Visa Validity:

C1 Visa holders can stay inside the United States for a maximum of 29 days and should leave the US within 29 days on the proposed flight or ship of departure.

Processing time

Successful applications take 5 – 6 workdays to process before the passport is handed to the courier for delivery. Additional two working days should be allowed for delivery.

C1 Visa Application Process:

  1. Complete the DS-160 online application available online and print the confirmation page (to carry for the interview)
  2. Pay the non-refundable MRV fee online
  3. Schedule an interview appointment with a Consular office.
  4. Attend your interview appointment and bring all pertinent documentation:
    • Confirmation page of form DS-160
    • Valid passport
    • One passport size photo for each visa applicant, including infants (see the “Photo Requirements” here)
    • A copy of your air ticket showing your need to transit the United States to travel to another country
    • Documentation that demonstrates social, economic, and family ties to India. Such documents might include: original residence permit for foreigners, certificate of residence, family status, marriage certificate, contract of sale or lease of property, employment contract, last pay slips, tax returns, bank statement, etc…
  5. If approved, the visa is issued within two or three working days. After a maximum of another three working days, the passport will be available for collection at the Courier company location selected during the online registration process (on average about five working days after the interview). If you select the home delivery option, delivery will take a few business days longer.
  6. Once your passport is at the Courier location, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to pick it up.
  7. If the visa is denied, your passport will be returned to you at the conclusion of the interview, along with a letter explaining the reasons for the visa refusal.

If you are planning to travel through the US, ‘in transit’ to another destination, do you need to apply for a visa? Find out here

Important Links:

How to apply for US Visa

Reasons for US Visa Rejection

Tips to pass the US Visa Interview

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