US Transit Visa - C1 Visa Requirements and How to Apply in the USA Embassy in Manila

“How do I get a US transit visa?” You must apply for a C1 transit visa at the nearest USA Embassy or Consulate. The validity of the C visa is usually valid for a maximum of 29 days. All types of American transit visas (C1 visa, C2 visa, or C3 visa), are valid for a short period of time or until the date to depart the US is on your ticket, whichever one is sooner.

You will not be allowed to board any flights to the Caribbean or Latin America if you have a layover in the USA without having a valid USA visa. Getting a B1/B2 visa can be hard. So I suggest making sure you at least have a valid C1 visa / US transit visa! One of the most common reasons for getting offloaded is a failure to secure the appropriate documentation when traveling, such as transit visa when you are transiting through the US.

But worry not! In this post, I will be sharing to you, Philippine passport holders, the How-Tos and tips on securing the appropriate transit visa for the US.

US Transit Visa - C1 Visa

When traveling/transiting through the US, you will be required to secure a transit (C) visa beforehand.

According to the US Bureau of Consular Affairs, 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 (i.e. visitor’s visa or visa waiver program), this means that the US isn’t your country of destination.

You have to take note though, that transit C visa does not apply if you wish to pull an Anthony Bourdain during your layover and do a little sightseeing, you will need a visitor’s visa for that no matter how quick your sightseeing will be.

STEP 1: Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form or the Form DS-160. (click here to see a sample)

In this step, you will need two things:

1.) a COMPLETELY filled-up nonimmigrant visa application form and

2.) your PHOTO. Click here to access Form DS-160. Once you’ve access to the Form, you will be required to fill in details pertaining to your personal information and purpose of securing a nonimmigrant visa.

TIP: You MUST complete the online visa application which includes a portion where you’ll upload your photo, otherwise, you will not be assigned a confirmation number. Also, after completing the form, do not forget to print copies of it since you will be required to present them on your scheduled interview. 

STEP 2: Payment of the Transit Visa Application Fee 

The next step is to pay the transit visa application fee in the amount of US$160.00. This payment is non-refundable and must be paid before you schedule your interview.

TIP: You can pay the fee through any BPI branches, BPI Online or BancNet. After making the payment, DO NOT FORGET TO KEEP THE RECEIPT because you will be needing that for the upcoming steps.

STEP 3: Schedule your interview date

After payment, you will have to schedule your interview by creating an account in the “Apply for US Visa” website. There, you will be required to input your confirmation number (see Step 1) and your payment receipt number (Step 2).

TIP: The US Embassy is strict with schedule so you have to be there on time (no Filipino time here). Also, these are the documents that you need to bring on your interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States;

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page;

  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview; and

  • Airline ticket showing that your transit through the US is necessary.

STEP 4: Prepare for the interview

Once you have secured a schedule for interview at the US Embassy***, I highly advise that you prepare the documentary requirements that you need to present, which are: 

  • Passport valid for travel in the US

  • 2”x2” Photo

  • Form DS-160

  • Application fee payment receipt

TIP: These are the basic and most important documents that you must bring with you on your scheduled interview date. But if you’re feeling less confident about these documents or just to be sure, you can bring with you additional documents that you can present to prove your qualification for a transit visa such as: 

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.

  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.

  • Where appropriate, an itinerary and/or other information about your planned trip. (This can be tentative.)

  • Bank savings account books or other evidence of liquid assets that indicate the balance in your accounts and account activity.

  • Real estate lease or deeds.

What to expect during the interview?

A consular officer will be assigned to conduct your interview and he/she is tasked to determine whether you complied with all the requirements and whether you are qualified for a US transit visa. Also, your fingerprint will also be taken. 

Once your visa is approved, you will need to pay an issuance fee and that’s it! You’re sure to be able to transit successfully through the US!

*** The US Embassy in the Philippines is located at 1201 Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila. This is where all the interviews for visa application are held.

Avoid getting offloaded!

Traveling is always fun and exciting until roadblocks happen. One roadblock that most people find really scary is getting offloaded while in transit - all the effort you put in packing, preparing your itinerary, getting to the airport will be all for nothing when you get offloaded.

1. Be confident. If you are an honest-to-goodness tourist/transit passenger, then there is no reason for you to feel nervous when you are interviewed by an immigration officer. Just let them know that you are merely transiting to another destination. Nothing more. Do not overshare, just answer what is being asked. Immigration officers are trained to profile you, so less talk, less mistake.

2. Make sure your passport is still valid for at least 6 mos. This has become a general rule when traveling abroad. The longer the expiration date, the better. Knowing how difficult it is to secure a schedule with our DFA for passport renewals, it is wise to secure a schedule way ahead of your passport’s expiration date.

3. Present your airline ticket stating your country-destination. A round-trip ticket is a plus.

4. Proof of financial capacity. This helps the immigration officer to easily profile you as a tourist since they would usually take this as you have the capacity to travel back to your country-origin.

There you have it! A little heads up, these instructions and tips are NOT foolproof. Use these as a mere guide and make sure to still ask and confirm with the US Embassy the necessary steps to take as these requirements could change as they pleased. Good luck!

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