A transit visa (C Visa) is a nonimmigrant visa issued to foreigners that will be traveling through the United States or have a very short term stay. It is important to note that a person who is granted a transit visa may not change his or her status to another nonimmigrant classification and in some cases cannot adjust status at all in the United States. Furthermore, extensions of stay in the U.S. are not allowed. The variations of the transit visa are the C-1, C-2 and C-3 visa. It is important to note that a C visa holder is not allowed employment authorization in the U.S.
A person can apply for C-1 status if their basis for entering the U.S. is “immediate and continuous transit through the U.S.”. This allows any C-1 visa holder a maximum of 29 days in the United States. This visa is available for aliens that are required to change airports in the U.S. or crewmembers of ships that will be passing through the United States. The requirements of this visa are such that if a crewman is requesting this status, the shipping company (employer) is required to provide a letter in which they agree to cover the costs of removal from the country, should the need arise. The alien should also have valid proof that he/she will be allowed in their country of destination and that they have enough money for the trip.
C-2 status is reserved for foreigners that are authorized to travel to the United Nations. Like the C-1 visa, the C-2 has a maximum allowed stay of twenty nine (29) days in the United States. Since the United Nations headquarters is located in New York City, travel is limited to immediate New York City area.
C-3 status is available to foreign government officials that are in transit through the United States. The limitations are similar to those of the C-1 or C-2 status; however this status is only available to government officials. The maximum allowed stay in the U.S. is also 29 days.