Virginia, US
Article image
| Nikhil Bande

Transit Visa: A Tricky Situation

Travellers often find themselves in situations, which may require a transit visa to change flights from the same or nearby airport within the transiting location.

Travellers often find themselves in situations which may require a transit visa to change flights from the same or nearby airport within the transiting location. Travellers may choose different airports within the transiting location or opt for delayed flight connections, which may compel them to obtain a transit visa or appropriate visitor visa for the transiting location. Such transit visas may allow them as short as four hours to a few days to pass through the transiting location and board flights to the final destination.

Will you need a transit visa?

Transiting locations may also impose transit visa requirement on travellers holding a certain visa type for a destination country. The nationality of the traveller may also come into consideration when determining the transit visa requirement. Hence, it is vital to know if you need a transit visa for the transiting location based on your situation. If the transiting applicant intends to cross the immigration checkpoint for a few hours by getting a visa on arrival at the transit location, then transit visa may not be a requirement in such situations.

Transit visa may be secured in advance if it is a mandatory requirement at the transiting location or can be applied at the transiting airport border control post.

For transiting smoothly, I would suggest that the traveller must be able to demonstrate that:

  • The traveller possesses enough funds and has a clear intention to transit to their final destination;
  • The traveller has relevant travel authorization to be present at the destination for the duration of their visit; and
  • The only purpose of landing at the transiting airport is to transit and not to cross the border.
 
How are transit visas classified?
 
Transit visas may be classified as either Airside Transit visas, granted by certain countries to allow travellers to pass through their arrival airport without passing through passport control, or Landside Transit visas, which permit the traveller to board an onward flight from a different airport within the transiting country.

Certain countries can facilitate transit visas that can be used via transiting through an airport or they may issue a short stay visa. For instance, certain Schengen states can issue a short stay visa to travellers who intend to go from one non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country by crossing through the territory of any Schengen member country. The visa may be valid for one or several crossings within a defined maximum duration.     

Transit visa regulations are often changing, and travellers are advised to check with the relevant immigration offices or airlines to remain informed of the situation. Sometimes, minor changes to policy go unnoticed, especially for the landside transit, and may put the traveller in a tricky situation to figure out onward journey within the stipulated rules of transit, which may be coupled with expensive ticket rearrangements and loss of time.

For further advice on transit visa regulations, please contact Nikhil Bande at NBande@fragomen.com.