C2 Transit Visa for Authorized Travel to the United Nations

C2 transit visa


Introduction: C2 Transit Visa for Authorized Travel to the United Nations

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes the C2 nonimmigrant visa classification for aliens authorized to travel to the United Nations. In this article, we will examine who is eligible for C2 classification, the application process and rules for C2 classification, and special consideration for nonimmigrants classifiable as C2 who may also be classifiable as B1 [see article], B2 [see article], or I [see article].

Persons Covered Under the C2 Category

The C2 nonimmigrant category is authorized in section 101(a)(15)(C) of the INA. The statute defines as a nonimmigrant “an alien who qualifies as a person entitled to pass in transit to and from the United Nations Headquarters District and foreign countries, under the provisions of paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) of section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement with the United Nations (61 Stat. 758).

Section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement prohibits United States authorities from imposing impediments to transit to and from the headquarters district of the United Nations for certain persons authorized to travel to the United Nations. The following are the categories covered under the C2 nonimmigrant category in section 101(a)(15)(C) of the INA:

Representatives of the press, or of radio, film or other information agencies, who have been accredited by the United Nations (or by such a specialized agency) in its discretion after consultation with the United States;
Representatives of nongovernmental organizations recognized by the United Nations for the purpose of consultation under Article 71 of the Charter;
1 or
Other persons invited to the headquarters district by the United Nations or by such specialized agency or business.

Eligibility Requirements for C2 Classification

Under Department of State (DOS) regulations in 22 C.F.R. 41.71 [link], an alien described in paragraphs (3), (4), or (5) of section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement with the United Nations may qualify for admission in the C2 category if he or she is applying for admission solely in transit to the United Nations Headquarters District.

The DOS's Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) states in 9 FAM 402.3-6(D) that applicants for C2 visas are exempted from most grounds of ineligibility found in section 212(a) of the INA. However, applicants for C2 visas are not exempt from ineligibility under sections 212(a)(3)(A), 212(a)(3)(B), 212(a)(3)(C), and 212(a)(7)(B) (see footnote 2 for explanation of these ineligibility grounds).2 The DOS has discretion to recommend a waiver of inadmissibility to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under section 212(d)(3)(A) except for certain security grounds covered under section 212(a)(3)(A) and any inadmissibility ground listed under section 212(a)(3)(C).

9 FAM 402.3-6(D)(1) explains that holders of C2 visas may only be admitted under the conditions set forth in the applicable DHS regulations found in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(c)(2). The regulation sets forth the following restrictions for those admitted in C2 status:

Must proceed directly to the United Nations Headquarters District;
Must remain in the United Nations Headquarters District continuously (except in order to depart the United States); and
Must have a document establishing eligibility to enter some country other than the United States following his or her sojourn in the United Nations Headquarters District.

The regulation defines the “immediate vicinity of the United Nations Headquarters District” as the “area lying within a twenty-five mile radius of Columbus Circle, New York, NY.”

8 C.F.R. 214.2(c)(3) restricts the period of admission in C2 status to a maximum of 29 days. This means that a C2 nonimmigrant is not eligible for an extension of stay.

Under 9 FAM 402.3-6(D)(2), consular officers will advise applicants for C2 visas of the travel restrictions that are incident to C2 status.

Under 22 C.F.R. 41.71, an alien must also meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for a C2 visa:

1. Intends to pass in immediate and continuous transit through the United States;
2. Is in possession of a common carrier ticket or other evidence of transportation arrangements to the alien's destination;
3. Is in possession of sufficient funds to carry out the purpose of the transit journey, or has sufficient funds available for that purpose;
4. Has permission to enter some country other than the United States following the transit through the United States, unless the alien submits satisfactory evidence that such advance permission is not required.

Information Media Representatives Proceeding to the United Nations

Paragraph (3) of section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement with the United Nations allows for representatives of the press, radio, film, or other information agencies to travel to the United Nations. 9 FAM 402.3-6(F) explains that a media representative may not be issued a C2 visa unless he or she “presents evidence of accreditation by the United Nations.” If the applicant does not present such accreditation, the consular officer shall refer the applicant for information regarding where to obtain such accreditation if the applicant inquires. If the applicant received a waiver of ineligibility under section 212(d)(3)(A), the consular officer may presume that the question of accreditation has been resolved.

B or I Visa in Lieu of C2

9 FAM 402.3-6(E) explains that an alien who is classifiable as C2 may instead be issued a B or I visa if the consular officer finds that the alien is otherwise qualified and if the alien pays any required fees associated with the application.

Application Process

The application process for C2 visas is described on the DOS's webpage on Transit Visas [link].3

An alien applying for a C2 visa must apply with his or her U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The first step in the application process is to file the online Form DS-160. After filing the Form DS-160, the applicant must schedule a visa interview and pay the non-refundable visa application fee. Please note that the applicant must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond his or her period of stay in the United States unless he or she is the national of a country for which the requirement is only a valid passport for the intended period of stay [see list as of July 16, 2015].

Other Considerations

The C2 visa category is not among the nonimmigrant classes eligible for employment authorization under 8 C.F.R. 214.1(e).

Persons on C2 status are exempt from the section 222(g) visa overstay provisions [see article] absent a status determination by an Immigration Judge or by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

C2 visa holders are barred from applying for change of status under section 248 [see article]. C2 nonimmigrants are nominally eligible for adjustment of status under section 245. However, the nature of the C2 nonimmigrant category makes it exceedingly unlikely that any such application would be approved, and it is accordingly inadvisable (especially in light of having demonstrated nonimmigrant intent to obtain a C2 visa) to seek adjustment of status while in the United States as a C2 nonimmigrant.

Conclusion: C2 Transit Visa for Authorized Travel to the United Nations

The C2 visa is a limited transit visa for authorized travel to the United Nations. An experienced immigration attorney can be of great assistance in the C2 visa application process, especially if the applicant may be subject to one of the ineligibility grounds that are applicable to C2 applications. If the applicant is also eligible for a B or I visa, he or she should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate his or her options.


  1. Article 71: “The Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.”
  2. INA 212(a)(3)(A) covers ineligibility for security grounds; INA 212(a)(3)(B) covers ineligibility for terrorist activities; INA 212(a)(3)(C) covers ineligibility for aliens whose admission would have potentially serious foreign policy consequences for the United States (as determined by the Secretary of State); and INA 212(a)(7)(B) covers ineligibility for nonimmigrants who are not possession of a passport valid for a minimum of six months from the date of the expiration of the initial period of the alien's admission or contemplated initial period of stay, or an alien who is not in possession of a valid nonimmigrant visa or border crossing card at the time of application for admission.
  3. https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/transit.html (retrieved on Jun. 5, 2016)

Resources and Materials:

Kurzban, Ira J. Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool. 14th ed. Washington D.C.: AILA Publications, 2014. 1030, 1040, Print. Treatises & Primers.