Who is not looking forward to a long-awaited holiday? The trip has been booked, e.B. to Cancun, Mexico or Vancouver, Canada. There is a small stopover of a few hours in the USA, because the flight takes you e.B. via Los Angeles or New York. Meanwhile, the holiday planning for your trip is in full swing: Which hotel should we choose? Which beachwear makes it into the suitcase? Stop! Before you continue to indulge in holiday anticipation, you should pay attention to transit through the United States. Because the supposed stopover has it all. What transit means to you and what you need to consider can be read here.
What is considered transit or transit?
Even if your main destination is not the United States of America, a short transit stay of a few minutes, a few hours or more means de facto entry into the United States. Therefore, you must ensure that you comply with the US entry requirements and that you are not denied onward travel due to a lack of careful preparation and, in the worst case, you have to return home at the American transit desk.
Visa or Visa Waiver Program with ESTA?
Basically, all people who do not have an American passport need either a visa or a valid ESTA entry permit to enter the United States, even for transit of a few minutes or hours. In principle, the following residence permits can be considered:
ESTA (as part of the Visa Waiver Program, VWP) is available to most Europeans and many other nationalities. For this purpose, the traveler only needs to be in possession of a current ESTA permit. This ESTA approval can be obtained online in a matter of minutes.
Attention: ESTA no longer valid after travel to the following countries: Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. Persons who actually qualify for the ESTA procedure (e.B German, Austrian or Swiss citizens), but who have travelled to the above-mentioned countries since 1 March 2011, are excluded from the ESTA procedure. Inevitably, these individuals will need to apply for a U.S. visa, even if they are in transit for less than an hour.
If you come from a country or have a passport from a country that is not approved for the ESTA procedure (e.B. Turkey or Ukraine) or you do not get an ESTA entry permit for any other reason, you will definitely need a US visa. The right visa for transit is the so-called C visa. To do this, you must apply for a visa and attend an interview appointment at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. Ship passengers who travel with a ship to a destination not in the USA and whose ship arrives at a US port without docking there also often need a transit visa issued as a combination C-1/D visa (for crew members). We advise you to submit the application in good time, i.e. at least four to six weeks before the planned trip.
The following requirements must be met:
- It is an immediate or continuing transit through the United States.
- You must be in possession of a regular ticket or proof of destination.
- They have sufficient financial resources for the transit journey.
- You have permission to enter another country after leaving the United States.
B-1 / B-2 VISA
Persons who are excluded from the ESTA procedure and travel to the USA for transit purposes, but who intend to travel to the USA in the future, have the option of a
to apply. If approved, you would have the authority to travel to the United States for transit, business, and tourism purposes for the duration of the visa. In this respect, we would recommend the B-1 / B-2 variant to our customers, because this is more extensive than the C visa. By the way, the fee is identical, i.e. whether C-1, B-1, B-2 or B-1 / B-2, the consular fee is always the same. The current visa fees can be found on our cost page.
The B visa is also usually applied for as part of a personal interview in one of the responsible US consulates. Plan for around four to six weeks of lead time.
HOLDERS OF A WORK VISA (Z.B. E, L OR H)
For example, people who have an E, L, or H visa are allowed to enter the United States for work purposes. However, if you are planning a US transit for purely private reasons, e.B. to go on holiday in Mexico, you will need either a valid ESTA entry permit, a C visa or a B visa.
In practice, travelers have often not been turned away with a work visa for pure transits or transit. However, there are also border officials who are very strict and, in the worst case, do not recognize transit by work visa.
Transit from Travel Ban countries
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, entry into the U.S. has been severely restricted. As a result of the US entry ban, entry into the United States from certain regions (including the Schengen area) is currently prohibited until further notice. This affects visa holders, persons with valid ESTA authorisations and persons with other valid travel documents – including vaccinated or recovered persons.
Currently, entry into the USA is only possible in a few exceptional cases. Exceptions apply, among other things, to close family members of US citizens and Green Card holders as well as to persons whose entry is in the national interest of the USA (= National Interest Exception,NIE).
Important: Since a transit stay in the USA is considered an entry by the US authorities, transit travellers are also affected by the so-called Corona Travel Ban. This means that transit travelers who fall under the Corona Travel Ban will be denied entry to the United States. The decisive factor here is the country in which you have stayed within 14 days before your planned transit through the USA.
Typically, transit travel through the United States does not entitle you to obtain an NIE exemption. This means that transit travelers who have stayed in one of the Travel Ban countries within 14 days of the planned transit through the United States are normally not allowed to enter the United States without further ado.
Transit travelers who believe that their transit through the U.S. is of urgent need should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
Even with transit trips, the US entry requirements must be complied with in any case, so that the dream holiday or a business trip does not become a nightmare.
Source: The American Dream