I am a greek citizen with an EU passport, living in the UK. Visited Iran this past September on holidays. End of December this year (1.5 months from now), I am visiting Costa Rica, but have a connection flight through Houston, USA.

Could someone please guide me on what kind of Visa I need and how I can obtain it?


US generally does not allow a 'sterile' transit in the international section of an airport, as is common in most other countries. If you have a connecting flight in the US, even when directly coming from abroad and leaving to a different country, you will be and must be entitled to regularly enter the US as a visitor.

As a Greek citizen, you would usually be able to use the so called Visa Waiver Program, which allows you to enter the US without what they understand as a 'visa'. You would still have to apply for an ESTA, an electronic travel authorization similar to what other countries call an 'e-visa'.

Since you have been visiting Iran since March 1st, 2011, you are however not entitled to use the Visa Waiver Program anymore. You will either need a C-1 transit visa or a regular B-2 tourist visa and will have to schedule an appointment for the visa application at the US embassy in London or at the consulate in Belfast. You can find more information from the US embassy's web page.

If this is a one time trip and you don't need the US visa for other purposes later, it might be easier for you to try to find a UK-Costa Rica flight without connections in the US. If your application is not straight forward but need additional processing, which is not unlikely with your visit to Iran, you should not expect the application process to be completed by end of December anyway. If you plan to visit the US as a tourist in the future, it may be just as clever to apply for a regular, 'full' B-2 tourist visa instead of 'just' a C-1 transit visa.

  • Won't they need a C-1 visa for transit? – BritishSam Nov 13 '18 at 11:47
  • Exactly, I was just submitting my application and came across the C-1 visa: travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/… Seems like this is the one I should go for? Advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you – Jason Spanomanolis Nov 13 '18 at 11:51
  • @JasonSpanomanolis suppose it depends if you want to visit the USA again soon, you can use a B2 to visit for vacations etc. – BritishSam Nov 13 '18 at 12:17
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    @BritishSam You are both right. I was for some reason the impression that the C-1 visa was only usable for transit between sea ports and air ports (those were the limited number of situations I originally mentioned in the first paragraph). As I see now, the C-1 visa can also be used for airport transit and I have amended my answer. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 13 '18 at 12:23
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    It would be far more sensible to apply for a B1/B2 visa. The cost is the same, and it will allow entry for much longer. As a VWP country citizen with a valid reason for not using VWP, it will be just as likely to be approved as a transit visa. – Doc Nov 13 '18 at 13:02

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