Generally, if you are from another country and wish to come to the U.S, you must have a visa. The visa you would obtain will be either an immigrant visa when you want to permanently reside in the country or a nonimmigrant one when you need to visit for a few days. If you are moving through the U.S to a different country, you must have a Transit C visa. This visa is different from a visitor's visa because it is offered to individuals on continuous or immediate transit to another country through the U.S.
Going through the U.S without the Transit C visa is impossible. However, applying for it does not automatically guarantee you will have it. To avoid the frustrations, a California Immigration Attorney can help you obtain your required Transit C visa to facilitate your smooth transiting.
When a Transit C Visa is Required
As earlier discussed, depending on your reason to be in America, you will require a visa. A transit C visa is not for visiting but for passing through the country. There are multiple reasons why you would require this type of visa. These include:
- When you are a foreigner going to a different country and will need a short layover, your sole reason for being in America is transiting to another country.
- When you are embarking from another port while on a vessel or cruise ship that is traveling to a different country and not the U.S, but on your journey, the ship will dock in the U.S without the intent to land there
- You are a crewmember going to the U.S to join your vessel or plane you work in to provide services. Besides the Transit C visa, you will require a crew member's D visa as well.
- Suppose you are a foreigner moving continuously or immediately through the U.S to the United Nations Headquarters or from it according to the agreement between the headquarters and the UN. However, your movement under this visa is restricted to the surrounding New York City area.
There are instances that your transit visa will not be in use. These include:
- If you are a foreigner with a layover whose primary reason is to visit people you know or to sightsee but not for immediate transit. In this case, you will require a visitor's B visa.
- If you are a coasting officer wanting to come to the U.S, you will require a visitor's B visa and not a Transit C visa. If you are a coasting officer, you are temporarily employed if an officer from the foreign vessel is granted leave, but the ship is in a U.S. port. Additionally, this visa is granted as long as the ship does not stay over 29 days in American waters.
- If you are a crewmember using a private boat or yacht from another country's port that will dock in American waters for 29 or fewer days, you will not need a Transit C visa but a visitor's B visa.
- If you are an international organization employee and are given an assignment in the U.S. but are on transit, you will require an international organization G-4 visa and not a Transit C visa.
Applying for the Transit C Visa
After understanding this type of visa and if you qualify for it or what you require, the next step is to make an application. It is critical to understand that not all applications are successful, but your chances of having it are high with proper guidance from an immigration attorney. The steps required in obtaining the visa include:
Completing the Transit C Online Application Form
After establishing that you will be traveling through the United States, you must fill the Visa application form online for nonimmigrants, known as Form DS-160. After completing this form satisfactorily, you then print it and go with it to your visa interview.
While filling the form, you will be required to upload a photo. It is critical to understand the photo's requirements meaning the dimensions and format, before filling the form. If the photo you submit does not meet the specified requirements, it will be declined.
Because of how vital a photo is, you must adhere to all the requirements that include:
- Colored photo
- It should be sized such that your head is between an inch and an inch and three-eighths or 22mm by 35mm. This translates to between 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the top of your head to the chin.
- The photo must have been taken in the last six months to give a true reflection of how you currently appear.
- The background where the photo is taken must be plain, white, or off-white in color.
- The photo must show your full face while facing the camera.
- You must maintain a neutral expression meaning do not smile or make a funny face, and ensure your eyes are open.
- The clothes you have on while taking the photo should be your normal or day to day wear. This means you cannot take the photo wearing a bikini or sporting gear, among others.
- You cannot submit a photo you have taken with a uniform unless you wear religious clothing every day. For instance, if you are a nun, you can submit your photo taken wearing your religious attire.
- Headgears, hats, or anything that obscures your hairline or hair must not be in your photo. However, an exemption is made to those that wear them for religious purposes and are worn daily. Additionally, you must ensure your face is visible with no shadows from the headgear being cast on your face.
- You cannot take the photo while wearing headphones, wireless devices in your ears, or other items similar to these.
Previously, you could be allowed to submit a photograph where you had your glasses on.
- Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Ensure as you take the photo, your glasses are off except in medical situations where you need them to protect your eyes. For instance, if you had eye surgery recently, you may be required to have your glasses to protect the eyes. However, a medical report from a medical professional must accompany your application to support your case. In cases where you must have your eyeglasses on, there are conditions to them that include
- The eyeglass frames must never cover your eyes.
- The picture must be free from any glare that obscures your eyes.
- The photo must not have refraction or shadows obscuring the eyes.
- If you use hearing aids, you can take the photo with them on
Scheduling an Interview
Booking the interview date is the next step. However, not all applicants are required to book an appointment. If you are below 13 years or above 79, you may not be interviewed for the visa, but this is at the discretion of the consular offices.
This means that once you schedule the interview appointment with the Consulate or American embassy from your country, they are the ones to decide if to interview you or not. You can also choose to schedule the meeting at any embassy or consulate of your choice, but it might be more challenging to qualify if you do not apply from your permanent residence.
Because of the number of applicants, location, visa category, or season, the waiting time for your interview date varies. This makes it critical for you to make the application early enough to give you sufficient time for the interview.
Preparing for the Interview
The next step will be paying the fees for the visa application. Depending on your nationality, you may be required to make other payments upon approval of your visa. The application fee for a Transit C visa is $160. However, it is advisable to go through the consulate or embassies website from where you are making the application and study the various payment requirements.
Collecting of Necessary Documents
Besides the application form, fees, and photo, you must have with you various documents as you go for your interview. These documents include:
- Your passport is issued by your government and must be good for travel. Its validity period must not be below six months over the period of your transit or stay. If your passport includes other people, each of them that requires a transit C visa must complete their application separately
- While you are filling the Form DS-160, a confirmation page is sent to you. You must print this page and present it at the interview along with the other documents.
- A receipt showing that you paid your application fees must also accompany the other documents in cases where you are expected to make payments before your interview.
- As earlier mentioned, you must submit your photo as you complete the application form online. On rare occasions, uploading can fail. You can bring a hard copy of the photo that is in the requirements earlier discussed with you in such a case.
Other Documents you are Required to Bring
Before your interview date, ensure you review all the instructions on the visa application. This is critical because a small mistake can result in the denial of the visa. Besides the above-discussed documents, you may be required to submit or present other documents supporting your application during the interview. These extra documents serve as evidence showing:
- Your reason for entering the U.S is on transit to a different country and that you purpose to depart or exit the U.S.
- Ability to cater to all your financial needs while on transit in the U.s
- Where you stay in your country of origin and your intentions to go back home
Showing evidence that you will be traveling to another country as you exit the U.S and evidence of their permission is an added advantage. This often is enough to prove you intend to leave the country, making it easier to qualify for the transit C visa. You can also provide evidence that you are employed and have a family you intend to go back to, strengthening your case. Additionally, if you are not covering your expenses while in America and someone else is, evidence of the same must be provided.
Attending your Interview
When the interview date arrives, you must attend in good time. A protocol officer will show you the consular officer conducting your interview. This officer is charged with determining whether you qualify for the visa and the visa category suitable to your purpose. During the interview, you must show that all the requirements according to the U.S immigration laws are met to obtain your visa to transit.
Digital scans for your fingerprints that are ink-free are taken as a requirement during the application process. These are typically taken when you present yourself for the interview, although this may vary depending on your location.
After the interview, further processing might be required in your application. If this is the case, the consular officer that interviewed you will inform you of the need.
If your application is granted, you may be asked to pay an issuance fee. However, this is not common in all countries. After this is done, you will receive instructions on how you will receive your visa and passport back.
Further Critical Information
Besides the information shared above, there is further information that is critical for your knowledge. This includes:
- There is no guarantee you will qualify to have the transit C visa. Thus, it is advisable not to make travel arrangements or purchase tickets until the visa is issued.
- Once you receive the visa, it is valid for the period indicated in it unless revoked or canceled. This means, even if your passport expires and your visa is valid, it will remain so. If you require to renew your passport containing the valid visa, never remove the visa from it. Instead, travel with both passports, and you will be allowed entry.
Denial of your Visa Application
Generally, visa applicants are interviewed at the American embassies or consulates in their country. After a consular officer reviews the information given, they approve or deny your application based on the law's set standards.
A majority of transit C visas applications are approved, but the U.S immigration law sets out standards under which your application can be denied. One of the reasons your application could be denied is when all the information required in determining your eligibility is not presented to the officers. If you do not qualify for a transit C visa and it is what you applied for, your application will also be denied.
Another reason to deny your application could be because after reviewing the information you gave, it is found that you fall in the scope of ineligibility or inadmissibility according to the immigration laws. Like crimes you have committed in the past, your present or previous deeds can contribute to the denial of your application.
If your application is denied, you will be notified and given the reason according to the law. You will also be advised to seek a waiver through the consulate of your ineligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you plan to make your application, you may have a lot of questions needing answering. Some of the common questions applicants of a transit C visa ask are:
How long will it take to process a transit C visa?
There is no telling the exact time it will take to process your visa. Sometimes the response time is very fast, and others, it takes longer. The determining factor is the workload the consulate or embassy has presently. If they have received visa applications from many people, the processing time is longer.
Transit C typically takes a shorter time to process than other visa types. From the moment you send your application to receiving feedback, it takes 5 working days. But, receiving information on whether your application can take longer than five days. If you did not need to visit the U.S's surrounding areas and only needed the visa to stay at the airport, this is a much easier one to receive. You will only be required to indicate the airport name as it appears on your ticket. Once your visa application is approved, the necessary documents are sent ahead to the airport you indicated in your application. As you land at the airport, you will find an immigration officer who will guide you.
What is the cost of a transit C visa?
As earlier discussed, the application fee for a transit C visa is $160. Once you have paid, a receipt is generated. Print it and keep it together with the other documents required at the interview.
What is the validity period of a transit C visa?
When you apply for this kind of visa, it means your intended stay in the U.S is short. In this case, your visa is valid for 29 days, although it can also be valid until your departure date.
What cannot be done with a transit C visa?
Typically, a transit visa limits you to the places you can go to. These include your port of entry, the airport or the United Nations headquarters, and its surroundings. Besides these, the visa has other restrictions that include:
- You are prohibited from staying in the U.S longer than your visa allows
- You cannot travel or go to school using this visa in the U.S
- You cannot find employment with this visa
- You cannot use the visa for tourism or as a business visa. If you require it to be adjusted to suit this, you will have to apply for the status to be changed
- Using this visa, you cannot seek a Green Card
What if you have previously had a transit C visa?
If previously you had applied for a transit visa and given it, it gives you an advantage with your current application. A prior visa helps demonstrate that your visit presently is temporary as before and can be trusted to exit the country as you did previously.
Additionally, you will not be treated as a fresh applicant but a renewing one. Sometimes, the consulate may waive your interview requirements based on your prior application and interview strength. If your previous visa expired in 12 months of the current application, you qualify for a waiver of the interview.
What happens if your former transit visa was stolen or canceled?
If you had previously received approval for your visa application and it was canceled or stolen, you will start the process all over again. Your canceled or stolen visa indicates that all the requirements to obtain it were met, but you will still be required to make a fresh application and present yourself for the interview. The requirements for the interview must also be met as before.
What could disqualify you from eligibility?
As earlier discussed, your visa application can be rejected. Some of the reasons include:
- If you had a transit visa before and during your short stay, you committed a crime and were arrested for it. For instance, if you went to a bar and ended up fighting or found drugs. All these are grounds to revoke your current visa or make you ineligible for future applications.
- If previously you had entered the U.S illegally and were arrested for the offense or convicted of it. Entering the U.S illegally or having an undocumented entry automatically disqualifies you from applying for any visa, let alone a transit C one. If you are denied on these grounds, finding an experienced attorney to help you apply for a waiver to remedy the situation is critical.
What if your previous transit C visa application was denied?
If you had previously applied for a transit visa and denied, it does not mean that you cannot apply again in the future. You can make a new application and be invited for the interview. Ensure you correct the reason you were given previously for the denial. During the interview, you will be questioned as to the reason for the prior rejection.
Additionally, the documents you present are scrutinized more thoroughly during your present interview. After a prior rejection, the interview for the subsequent application will be more demanding of an explanation for your entry.
Find an Immigration Lawyer Near Me
Despite doing everything right, you may find yourself faced with challenges that require a legal expert in immigration laws. When faced with any challenges regarding your transit C visa, we at California Immigration Attorney will readily help you to correct the situation. Call us at 424-789-8809 to discuss your situation in greater detail.