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US Transit Visa C1 Made Easy: Application Process and Requirements Explained

Last Update: 15-05-2024

US Transit Visa

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. Do I need a visa to transit through the US?
  3. What is a US Transit Visa for Indians?
  4. Eligibility for US Transit Visa
  5. US Transit Visa Requirements
  6. Photo Specifications for US Transit Visa
  7. How to Apply for a US Transit Visa for Indians?
  8. US Transit Visa Processing Time
  9. US Transit Visa Fees
  10. How Long Can I Stay in the US with a Transit Visa?
  11. Conclusion
  12. FAQs

Introduction

Are you planning to pass through the United States en route to another destination? Navigating the intricacies of U.S. transit visas can seem daunting, but this guide aims to simplify the process. 

A US Transit Visa for Indians, specifically the C-1 visa, is essential for those whose only purpose of entering the U.S. is to transit to another country. 

This article breaks down everything you need to know about the application process, eligibility, and requirements to ensure your transit through the U.S. is smooth and stress-free. 

Whether you're connecting flights or need a short stay before your next travel segment, understanding the right visa and how to obtain it is crucial. Let's dive into the details to get you on your way!

Do I need a visa to transit through the US?

Yes, if you plan to transit through the United States on your way to another country, you generally need a visa. The specific visa for this purpose is called a Transit (C) visa. This type of visa is intended for those whose travel through the U.S. is solely for transit purposes. The journey should be immediate and continuous, meaning you must have a clear travel plan with no unreasonable layovers.

What is a US Transit Visa for Indians?

A US transit visa, specifically the C-1 visa, is designed for individuals who need to pass through the United States en route to another country. This type of visa is ideal for travelers who do not plan to stay in the U.S. but must enter temporarily for the sole purpose of connecting flights or other modes of transport.

Eligibility for US Transit Visa

Eligibility for a US transit visa, specifically the C-1 visa, is primarily intended for individuals who need to pass through the United States en route to another country. Here are the main criteria that make someone eligible for this visa:

  1. Transit Through the U.S.: The primary eligibility requirement is that you must be traveling to another country and your travel itinerary includes a brief layover in the United States. The main purpose of entering the U.S. should solely be to transit.
  2. Immediate and Continuous Transit: Your transit through the U.S. should be immediate and continuous. This means that the layover should be a reasonable and necessary stop in the course of your journey to your final destination.
  3. No Significant Layover: You should not be planning to spend significant time in the U.S. for tourism or other purposes that are not directly related to transiting to another country.

To apply for a transit visa, you must demonstrate during the visa interview that you meet these conditions. It’s crucial to have a confirmed onward ticket and to show that the primary intention of entering the U.S. is to pass through to your final destination.

US Transit Visa Requirements

Mandatory Documents

DS-160 Form

Fill out the Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form

Valid Passport

  • Ensure your passport is valid for travel to the United States. It must have a validity date at least six months beyond your intended stay in the U.S.
  • If your passport includes other family members who also need a visa, each person must submit their own application.

Recent Photograph

  • Include one 2 x 2-inch (51 x 51 mm) photograph that was taken within the last six months.

Appointment Letter

Bring a letter confirming that you have booked an appointment through the official visa appointment service.

Photo Specifications for US Transit Visa

When preparing to take your photo for a US transit visa, it’s important to meet the specific requirements to ensure your application proceeds smoothly. Here’s a straightforward guide to help you capture the perfect visa photo:

  • Color and Size: Your photo must be in color and your head should measure between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm to 35 mm) in height, which should be about 50% to 69% of the total height of the image. A Photo Composition Template is available to help you meet these size requirements accurately.
  • Recent Photo: The photo needs to be taken within the last six months to accurately reflect your current appearance.
  • Background: Use a plain white or off-white background. There should be no patterns or other decorations.
  • Positioning: Face the camera directly with a full-face view. Ensure your entire face is visible.
  • Facial Expression and Eyes: Maintain a neutral facial expression with both eyes open. Avoid smiling or frowning.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Wear the kind of clothing you wear daily. Uniforms should not be worn unless they are religious clothing worn daily.
  • Head Coverings and Hats: Do not wear hats or head coverings that obscure your hair or hairline, unless they are worn daily for religious reasons. In such cases, your full face must still be clearly visible, and the head covering must not create shadows on your face.
  • Glasses and Accessories: Glasses should not be worn in your photo unless you cannot remove them for medical reasons, such as recent eye surgery. In such cases, ensure there is no glare or shadows over your eyes caused by the glasses, and provide a medical statement from a health professional. Hearing devices or similar necessary items can be worn if they are part of your daily life.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your photo meets the requirements for your US transit visa application, helping avoid any delays or issues with your submission.

How to Apply for a US Transit Visa for Indians?

Apply through the Government Portal

Applying for a US transit visa for Indians involves several steps that are designed to ensure you meet all the necessary criteria for transit through the United States. Here’s a friendly guide to help you navigate the process:

Step 1: Identify Your Visa Type

C-1 visa (transit) is specifically for those passing through the U.S. en route to another destination. Confirm this is the right visa for your travel needs.

Step 2: Fill Out the Visa Application

Complete the DS-160, the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form. Make sure to fill it out accurately because once submitted, you cannot make changes. The DS-160 form is crucial, and you should read all guidelines carefully before submitting.

Step 3: Pay the Visa Application Fee

This fee is mandatory for all applicants and is non-refundable, regardless of whether the visa is granted. After payment, your receipt may take up to one business day to activate. This receipt is important for scheduling your visa interview.

Step 4: Schedule Your Appointments

Log in to your profile on the visa appointment website using the credentials linked to your visa fee payment. You'll need to arrange two separate appointments:

  • Visa Application Center (VAC) Appointment: Here, your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) will be collected. This should be scheduled at least one day before your embassy or consulate interview.
  • Embassy or Consulate Interview Appointment: This is where you will have your visa interview.

To book these, you'll need your passport number, the receipt number from your visa fee payment, and the barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.

Step 5: Attend Your Visa Appointments

At the VAC, you need to provide your passport (valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay), your DS-160 confirmation page, and a recent photograph. Make sure the photo meets the U.S. visa specifications.

Step 6: Track Your Visa Application

After your interview, if your visa is approved, you can pick up your passport and visa from the location you specified when booking your appointment. You will be notified by email and SMS when your passport is ready for pickup. Optional delivery services are also available.

US Transit Visa Processing Time

The US transit visa (C-1) processing time can vary depending on several factors, including the specific US embassy or consulate where you apply, the volume of applications they are processing, and individual circumstances of the applicant.

  • Appointment Wait Time: The first factor affecting the overall processing time is how quickly you can get a US visa appointment at the visa application centre and the US embassy or consulate. Appointment availability can vary greatly, from a few days to several weeks, depending on the location and time of year.
  • Visa Processing: Once your visa interview is complete, the typical US transit visa processing time can range from a few days to a few weeks. In most cases, if no additional administrative processing is required, the visa might be processed and ready within 3 to 5 business days after the interview.
  • Return of Passport: After your visa is approved, the time it takes to return your passport with the visa typically depends on the courier or postal service options available at the embassy or consulate. Most locations offer several return options, ranging from in-person pickup to courier services.

To get a more accurate estimate of visa processing times, you can check the specific US embassy or consulate website where you plan to apply. They often provide updated information on current wait times for both scheduling an appointment and processing a visa application. Additionally, staying in touch with the embassy or consulate after your interview can provide updates on any delays or additional information needed for your application.

US Transit Visa Fees

Visa TypeFee TypeUS Transit Visa Fees

C1 Visa

Embassy Fees

USD 185 (INR 15,540/-)

Please note that this fee is non-refundable and may vary. Extra charges could apply based on changes in the foreign exchange rate, if you choose expedited processing, or if you opt for courier services for document delivery.

How Long Can I Stay in the US with a Transit Visa?

A US transit visa (C-1) is specifically designed for individuals who need to pass through the United States en route to another destination. Therefore, the duration of stay allowed on a transit visa is typically limited to the amount of time needed to complete the transit through the U.S.

Generally, transit visa holders are permitted to stay for a maximum of 29 days or until the date they must depart to continue to their final destination, whichever is shorter. This time frame is intended to cover the period necessary for the layover or connection between flights or other modes of transport.

It’s important to note that the exact duration of your authorized stay will be determined and recorded by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry upon your arrival in the U.S. They will issue a Form I-94, which records the arrival and departure date and indicates the length of stay granted. Transit visa holders are expected to leave the U.S. within the timeframe specified on the Form I-94 to avoid violating visa conditions.

Conclusion

We hope this comprehensive guide has illuminated the path to obtaining your U.S. transit visa. Remember, the key to a smooth application process lies in preparation and understanding the specific requirements of the C-1 visa.

 Make sure to plan ahead, arrange all necessary documents, and adhere to the application steps meticulously. If you have further questions or need clarification, don't hesitate to check the official U.S. Department of State website or consult visa experts. 

Safe travels, and may your journey through the United States be just one more smooth leg in your global adventures!

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