It is not uncommon for individuals flying a long distance to stop over at other countries and change flights. This is known as transit or layover; when you do not step out to look around but stay within the airport for a duration before taking your next flight. It is permitted for a duration by using a Transit Visa.
Today, when people travel from India to the USA or Europe, frequent stopovers are made at airports in between. These ‘middle’ countries offer a transit visa to those passengers who are using their airport to connect to another flight to their final destination. This article aims to answer many questions, such as what is a transit visa, and how to get a transit visa. Read on to understand when a transit visa is required and what you can do with it.
- What is a transit visa?
- how to get a transit visa?
- When is a transit visa required?
- How long does a Transit Visa last?
- Schengen transit visa
- USA transit visa
- Dubai transit visa
- Singapore transit visa
- Malaysia Transit visa
1. What is a Transit Visa?
A Transit Visa is defined as “a visa allowing its holder to pass through a country only, not to stay there.” This visa is more focused on giving you permission to temporarily stopover in the country instead of spending a week for vacation. It is valid for a very short period and applies to individuals of specific nationalities. It is not too difficult to obtain and makes your travel easier in general.
2. How to get a Transit Visa?
Below is a set of steps you follow to apply for any transit visa:
- To apply for a transit visa, the first thing you need to do is check whether you need it. Most nations implement a transit visa policy for citizens of specific countries and have a list of exceptions. Check the specifics provided before proceeding to apply.
- Following this, you need to apply and submit a list of documents. This too depends on the country which will be serving as your layover. Each country has a different set of requirements for their transit visa applicants. Be thorough and ensure you have the mentioned files.
- You might need to make an appointment after this. Here, you will visit the consular and specify that you have no intentions of staying beyond your layover. Attending the appointment makes you eligible for the transit visa.
- Finally, you need to make the payment. Again, the transit visa fee varies from country to country. So, check the prices provided online. In any case, you will be informed of how much you need to pay at the office.
As you can see, the process to obtain a transit visa is quite uncomplicated. It is easy and requires a bit of awareness on the traveller’s part. These steps are common to follow regardless of the country.
3. When is a Transit Visa required?
As a stopover visa which is temporary, a transit visa is not provided at all times. You are generally required to have a stopover which lasts more than 24 hours to get one. This applies to most countries, but there are exceptions. To be safe again, you can check what makes an individual eligible for a transit visa. They will mention the timing of stopover along with the nationality to ensure there is no confusion.
4. How long does a Transit Visa last?
The duration of a transit visa comes down to where you are going. Some last longer than others and allow you to leave the airport. The duration of your transit visa depends on your dates of travel and will stay valid for as long as you have mentioned in your application. Of course, as it is not a visit or tourist visa, there are restrictions to how much you can move around. However, it will remain valid up till the point of your departure from the stopover country.
A transit visa is easy to access and is valid beginning from 4 days or 48 hours to 29 days or almost a month. Its validity is meant to expire as soon as you take your connecting flight and leave. You are free to utilise it for as long as you are in whichever country as long as you have specified the duration of your stopover. Therefore, a transit visa is valid until the date of your next flight.
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Can you leave the airport with a Transit Visa?
A question many travellers have is: can you leave the airport with a transit visa? The answer is YES. You can, in fact, leave the airport with a transit visa in most countries. However, the challenge comes at the topic of re-entry.
As soon as you step out of the airport, you are seen as a tourist. This means you are considered as a visitor and not a transit passenger. Due to this, you will need to go through the enter security process again to enter the airport. It is a hassle in a sense and makes leaving the airport to seem futile. Again, that does not mean it has no value. Within the airport, you can spend as much time as you wish to with little to no restrictions.
5. Schengen Transit Visa
The Schengen transit visa applies to those travelling through countries in the Schengen territory. The government requires you to have the following documents in order to apply for the Schengen transit visa:
- Your visa Application form. This is a short-stay form and needs to be filled and affixed with recent photographs.
- Two recent passport-sized photographs. This photo needs to have been taken in the last three months according to the Schengen requirements for a visa photo.
- A passport which must be valid for the next six months. It should not be older than ten years and must be valid. It also must have two blank pages to stick the visa and sticker to allow you to pass.
- Documents serving as evidence for your journey to the Schengen country
- You need to show return-flight ticket reservations from the Schengen country.
- A visa from your travel destination country that is, if you need a visa from there.
- Your Travel Insurance Policy. It should cover a minimum of €30,000 worth of medical emergencies.
- Evidence that you have paid the visa fee. It costs €60 and is the same price as the short-stay visa.
The Schengen transit visa must be submitted at the airport where you are stopping over and are changing your flights. Alternative locations for you to submit your transit visa are:
- The nearest to the airport where you are stopping over
- The consulate of the country you are stopping over in
- The embassy or consulate of another country from where the visa submission has been outsourced.
This visa is valid for a month from application and is considered expired when you depart. You may leave the airport with the visa freely.
6. USA Transit Visa
Valid for those travelling through the United States, the USA transit visa is easy to attain and requires you to have the following documents when you apply for the visa:
- A valid passport which allows you to travel to the United States – This passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States. If you are travelling with dependents, a separate visa application needs to be submitted for them to attain a transit visa.
- A Nonimmigrant Visa Application, along with the Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- The payment receipt for your Application Form. This only applies to those who had to pay for their visa.
- In case of failure to upload to your photo to the DS-160 Form, you must carry a photograph with you in print. It needs to be passport size and recent.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
You can read up on the instructions provided online to understand the procedure better. A few additional documents which you may require have been listed. These intend to prove that you are eligible for a transit visa and have the qualifications for the same. They are:
- A document proving that your intention to enter the United States is to transit and that you will not be staying in the United States to visit. In this case flight tickets which show your trip to a third country suffice.
- Financial statements which show that you will be able to support your trip, no matter how brief in the USA.
- Proof of residence in your country and your intent to return to the same.
Flight tickets or hotel bookings can serve as evidence of your intention to move on to a third country for which the USA is serving as a stopover.You can justify your intent to return to your home country by giving evidence of employment, residence and family ties which you are committed to. In the case that you are unable to cover your costs while in the United States, you can present a sponsorship letter with evidence of your relationship with the same. If you can fund your trip, a payslip is enough evidence and will be accepted with little challenge.
To attain your USA transit visa, you need to go through an interview. It is not a tedious procedure but requires your attentiveness.
During your visa interview, the consular officer will interrogate you to check whether you are qualified enough to receive a transit visa to the USA. If you are, they will determine which visa category your purpose of travel makes you eligible for. They will then check whether you meet the requirements laid out by the U.S. law for those applying for and receiving transit visas.
An ink-free, a digital fingerprint is taken as a part of the interview. This is a part of the process and is usually done where your interview is being taken. However, variations can occur based on your interview location. Following your interview, your visa may go through administrative processing. This is not common and is something you will be informed of by the consular officer if your visa requires any further investigation.
After approval, you will be informed of how long your passport will take to come with the visa. Following this, you will be required to pay a visa issuance fee to obtain the visa. Be sure to read it once you receive it to ensure there are no errors. It is unlikely, and you will be able to use the visa as soon as possible for the next month. This visa will remain valid until you leave the United States. However, you are not permitted to leave the airport with this visa in some states, so check up on that before travelling.
Also read: How to apply for Visa?
7. Dubai Transit Visa
To apply for the Dubai transit visa, there is a list of supporting documentation that should be submitted by the applicant. It comes down to your original country of residence.
The obligatory Documents that are needed to be submitted are provided below:
- Passport Bio Data Page: This is the page within the client’s passport that has all the personal details about the travelling individual. The copy of the passport bio page should be coloured. Black and White copies won’t be accepted.
- The Last Page of the Passport: Most nationalities have a lot of necessary info on the last page of their passport e.g. India. If your passport last page doesn’t have any info on the last page you may replace it with the first page which contains your details instead. The Last page should be coloured. Black and White copies won’t be accepted.
- A Photograph: Every applicant must submit a good and clear coloured passport size photograph of themselves. Ideally, the photograph must not be cropped from the passport and has to be clearly visible. The photograph should be coloured. Black and White images won’t be accepted.
- Proof of Residence: This is solely applicable if the passengers nationality is not constant with their country of residence. If this can be applicable, then the applicant should submit their residence proof visa within the passport.
This visa is valid for a month from acceptance and will expire when you depart for the third country.
Suggested read: A complete guide to Dubai tourist visa for Indians
8. Singapore Transit Visa
Indian passengers are eligible to be admitted without a visa if the following conditions apply:
- You need to possess a sound onward air price tag with journey commencing among 96-hours of arrival.
- You need to have a visa/long-term pass (with a validity of a minimum of one month from the date of entry into Singapore) which is valid and issued by any of the subsequent countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Single Journey Visas (SJV) are issued by the countries mentioned above as well and are accepted too. This applies in case you are transiting through Singapore on the onward or return leg of a constant journey. For those on the return leg of the journey, once the SJV has been utilised, the subsequent conditions should be met:
- The passenger should travel directly from the country that issued the SJV, on route through Singapore and directly back to their native country.
- The individual should not have returned to their home country since the SJV was last utilised.
This visa is valid for a month after issuing and can be used till you depart. You can leave the airport with this visa.
9. Malaysia Transit Visa
The Transit Visa is issued to foreign nationals who need a visa to enter Malaysia while stopping over on flight to alternative countries.
Foreign nationals on transit who do not leave the airport and are leaving within less than 24 hours do not require a transit visa. However, this only applies if they are using the same flight.
Transit visas are issued upon arrival for a validity period of a maximum of one hundred twenty hours. You cannot apply for extensions in this case. The Transit Visa is given to those who have subsequent needs:
If the traveller arrives and departs from a constant point and not through any of the other points
If they have confirmed onward tickets and other documents needed to continue travelling to the next country.
Travellers on transit without leaving the airport precincts and continuing their journey to subsequent destination with a constant flight an apply for the transit without visa facility. The following conditions need to be met for the approval of the TWOV (Transit Without Visa) facility.
Transit Without Visa (TWOV) can NOT be given to applicants WHO don’t have visas from one of the third countries of destination as listed below:
- New island
- United States of Americ
- South Korean Peninsula
The Transit Without Visa (TWOV) facility cannot extend beyond 120 hours or 5 days. So ensure that you will be departing in the stipulated time.
When applying for either; the Malaysia Transit Visa or the TWOV, you need the following documents. These will make the process of application easier and more efficient. The documents needed are:
- A passport valid for six months following your travel.
- The Application Form IMM.47 (They need to be printed individually on A4 sheets.The printing of multiple items on one sheet of paper will not be accepted).
- 2 Passport size images. They need to be recently taken (in the last six months) and need to be clear with all the features visible.
- A copy of your return or onward ticket to the next country or your home country. Proof of residence in your home country can be submitted as well. Family ties or evidence of employment can be submitted too, to show that you do intend to return to your home country.
- A payslip serving as evidence of your ability to sustain yourself needs to be submitted. If you will not be funding it, or you do not have enough money, a sponsorship letter needs to be submitted.
As mentioned above, your visa will be valid for 120 hours or 5 days. You will be required to depart before your visa expires. Your flight ticket will help you validate the transit visa for the right amount of time. You may leave the airport with your Malaysia transit visa.
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Transit visas are easy to obtain regardless of where you are stopping over. You should plan if you intend to leave the airport as not all countries allow you to leave with a transit visa. In case you need to, choose to apply for a visiting visa as you will not be met with as much of a challenge.
The duration of validity usually shifts between 48 to 120 hours or 2 to 5 days. This again depends on your nationality and date of the flight. Once again, try to be as aware as you can when applying.
The transit visa is suitable if you are stopping over for a brief period with little intention to visit the country. Your nationality needs to be eligible for the same, so check whether you need a transit visa or not. If you are stopping over for an hour or two, you do NOT need a transit visa. So, plan and do so in advance. Happy Travelling!
Further read: A Guide to Business Visa