Travel.State.Gov > U.S. Visas > Other Visa Categories > Transit Visa
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Transit (C) visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States en route to another country, with few exceptions. Immediate and continuous transit is defined as a reasonably expeditious departure of the traveler in the normal course of travel as the elements permit and assumes a prearranged itinerary without any unreasonable layover privileges. If the traveler seeks layover privileges for purposes other than for transit through the United States, such as to visit friends or engage in sightseeing, the traveler will have to qualify for the type of visa required for that purpose.
If you already have a valid visitor (B) visa, you may be able to use it to transit the United States. If you are a citizen of a participating country, you may be able to transit the United States on the Visa Waiver Program.
You must take several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.
While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
If you are age:
Then an interview is:
13 and younger
Generally not required
Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older
Generally not required
You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy orCconsulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
|Nonimmigrant Visa Type||Appointment Wait Time|
|Interview Required Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)||-- days|
|Interview Required Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)||-- days|
|Interview Required Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D)||-- days|
|Interview Required Visitors (B1/B2)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Visitors (B1/B2)||-- days|
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence that shows:
Proof of your onward travel arrangements and/or permission to enter another country after departing the United States may be sufficient evidence that your purpose for entering the United States is transit. Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may also be sufficient to show the purpose of your entry to the United States is transit only and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all costs while in the United States, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs of your trip.
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.
Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials, and waivers.
Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review Visa Denials to learn more.
Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to transit the United States. For more information see U.S. Embassy Ottawa website, U.S. Consulate Hamilton website and CBP website.
Additional resources for Canadian transit travelers to the United States can be found on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites in Canada.