If you’re planning to travel through the United States on your way to another country, you may be wondering if you need a visa for transit. This can depend on a number of factors. This post will explore the requirements for transiting through the US and whether or not you’ll need a visa.

What is Transit?

Transit indicates that you will travel to another country after a brief stay in the USA, typically less than 24 hours. This is not a layover, a prolonged stopover in the USA that frequently necessitates an overnight stay.

Depending on your country and the length of your layover, you may require a transit visa to enter the United States. You might be eligible to transit through the USA without a visa if your nation participates in the Visa Waiver Program. If you are not eligible for an ESTA, you should make an application for the C-1 Transit Visa.

Transiting with an ESTA

The Visa Waiver Program enables nationals of a select group of nations to visit the United States for up to 90 days on business or for vacation without a visa. Confirming whether your country is participating in the Visa Waiver Program is crucial because not all nations participate.

Depending on how long your layover will be, you might need to apply for a transit visa if you are not a resident of a country protected by the Visa Waiver Program. You can typically transit without a visa if your layover is less than eight hours long. 

Transit Without Visa Program

You can be qualified for the Transit Without Visa program if your layover is more than eight hours long but less than twenty-four hours. If they meet specific criteria, such as having a confirmed onward ticket and staying at the airport, certain passengers are permitted to transit through the USA without a visa.

If your layover lasts more than 24 hours, You must apply for a transit visa. Your unique circumstances, such as your nationality and the reason for your journey, will determine the sort of visa you require. The United States Department of State website has further details regarding the various visas.


The length of your layover and nationality will decide if you need a visa to transit through the USA. If you are a citizen of a nation participating in the Visa Waiver Program and your layover is less than 24 hours, you don’t need a visa to pass through the USA. If you aren’t a citizen of a nation covered by the Visa Waiver Program or your stopover lasts more than 24 hours, you must apply for a transit visa. Make sure you have all the required travel documentation with you and verify the visa requirements well in advance of your trip. You will still need to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection even if you’re merely passing through the country, so budget adequate time for this procedure.


How long does it take to obtain an American transit visa?

A transit visa’s processing period can change depending on the nation you are applying to and the season. Confirming the processing times with the American embassy or consulate in your nation is crucial. It is generally advised to apply for your visa well before your travel to give ample time for processing.

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