C-1 Transit Visa
If you are a non-US citizen and are merely passing through the United States while transiting to another foreign country, a C-1 transit visa is an appropriate non-immigrant visa. If you are traveling with your family, each person regardless of age, even children and babies listed in parents' passports, needs to apply for a separate C-1 Visa. Persons from the countries that qualify for the Visa Waiver Program can transit to the U.S. without the transit visa.

An immigration officer at the port of entry can admit a person holding a C-1 transit visa for the duration determined by him/her, but for a maximum duration of 29 days. You must leave the U.S. on the proposed flight or ship of departure, or within 29 days, whichever is earlier. You must pass in immediate and continuous transit through the U.S.

A transit visa is particularly very useful if you need to change airports in the U.S. Even if you don't need to change the airport, if there is a long delay before you can board your flight to the final destination, instead of waiting in the airport, you can get out and tour the nearby places, visit friends or family members, or do shopping.

However, even if you are planning to stay in the U.S. even for a day, you should apply for the B1/B2 visa.

Documents
The following documents are required for a C-1 transit visa:

Mandatory documents
Supporting documents
  • Proof of permission to enter the country of your final destination such as passport with a valid visa, or an evidence that a visa is not required.

  • Proof of the purpose of your visit to the foreign destination.

  • A common carrier (flight or ship) ticket or other proof of transportation arrangement to final destination.

  • Financial documents to show that you have adequate funds to cover the cost of your transit journey.

  • Evidence of a residence abroad to which you intend to return at the end of the stay in the U.S. This can be established by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments to some country other than the U.S., through sufficient evidence to compel you to return there at the conclusion of your stay.

  • Consular officer may require additional documents at the time of interview to verify the purpose of obtaining the visa. It is not possible to predict what additional documents may be required.

  • Additional documents for HIV positive persons:
    • A letter from the applicant's physician describing the current state of the health, the risk to the U.S. public health and the risk of spread of infection.

    • A letter describing the purpose of trip (essentially transiting the U.S.), anticipated travel dates in and out of the U.S., and the date by which you will confirm travel arrangements. The letter should also indicate the person will be covered by medical insurance during his/her stay.

  • Prior arrests/convictions in the U.S.:
    Obtain court records from the court(s) in which you were tried if you were arrested and convicted of an offense in the U.S. Such court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed.

    If your arrest did not result in a conviction, or if you are unable to obtain a copy of the court records, submit a sworn affidavit stating the arrest location (state and county), and the reason for the arrest.

    If your arrest resulted in a conviction, the affidavit must describe the nature of the offense committed, section of the law contravened and penalty imposed by the court(s).


Application
You must apply for a C-1 transit visa at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. All applicants over 14 years to 79 years of age must apply in person and must schedule an appointment before visiting the U.S. embassy or consulate. Applicants under the age of 14 and those 80 years and above may apply for a transit visa by mail.

Application procedures vary depending upon the consulates in different countries. If you are applying for a transit visa in India, you can find a detailed application procedure. Processing times can vary a lot in different countries and there are delays of several months in places like India before you can get the visa appointment. It is wise to plan very early because of constant heavy demand for U.S. visas.

If you have a medical ineligibility, have been denied entry into or deported from the United States, require additional administrative processing, or if you are a temporary resident of the the country where you are applying for a transit visa, your application may be delayed further.

If you are being deported by another country by transiting through the U.S., either with or without an escort, you will not be admitted as a transit without visa. You may be paroled for the purpose of transiting the U.S.