USA C-1 transit visa: what an applicant needs to know
In order to spend even a couple of hours in the United States, you must have a visa. Fortunately, a visitor's visa is not always required. If you do not intend to leave the airport, all you need is a U.S. transit visa ("C1 visa"). The same visa is required if you are traveling on a cruise during which the ship stops in one of the U.S. ports.
What do you need to know about the US transit visa (C1)
A C-1 U.S. transit visa allows you to stay at a U.S. airport, in a designated area, while waiting for your flight to another country. If you plan to go out into the city while waiting for your flight, you must apply for a B2 tourist visa.
The process of obtaining such a visa is almost no different from that of a tourist visa to the USA. You will also need to pay a consular fee, fill out a special form (in your case, the DS-160), and undergo an interview.
You may think that a transit visa is useless, as it's the same effort to get a full-fledged visa for tourist and business trips. On the one hand, it makes sense: so you can not just wait in the airport, but also take a walk and see the sights. On the other hand, statistics say that the percentage of refusals to obtain a transit visa is much lower than the percentage of refusals to tourist visas applications.
In addition, a legally used transit visa is considered to be quite a strong advantage in obtaining B-1/B-2 visas.
How do I apply for a U.S. transit visa?
As mentioned above, the process of applying for a transit visa is similar to the process of applying for a visitor's one. Learn more about it in our article How to apply for a USA visa: step-by-step guide .
Despite the "standard" nature of the procedure, it still has its own specifics. For example, to confirm the transit purpose of the trip, the consular officer will require a document with a detailed description of the entire route (not only within the United States), travel tickets, and visas to third countries.
Keep in mind that it takes at least fourteen days to obtain a transit visa (if all the documents are OK). So, be time-conscious and don't apply at the last minute.
Documents required for a U.S. transit visa
- Completed form DS-160 ;
- Tickets to destination;
- US visa photo;
- Bank check confirming payment of the consular fee;
- Visa to a final destination country, if required. For example, if you are flying to a Schengen country, you should apply for a Schengen visa first, and only then for the US visa.
Refusals of transit visas are rare. However, they do occur. Reasons for refusal include insufficient documents, unreliable information, and violation of the terms of stay in the United States on previous visas.
Therefore, you should review all your documents one more time. If you plan to hide or add any information, quite likely the security service of the embassy will reveal this fact, and you will not get the visa.
For how long is the US transit visa valid?
Transit visa is valid for 29 days from the date of issue. If necessary, the visa can be extended. For this purpose, a corresponding application must be submitted to the US embassy, and the consular fee must be paid again. The interview at this stage is no longer conducted.