I hold a Malaysian passport and am going to Mexico from Singapore for a work event. I was sent there for a few days and all the tickets have been purchased by the company. Including the one-way ticket back from Mexico to Singapore. BUT, the return ticket from Mexico to Singapore has a transit, which is at San Francisco. The transit is only 1 hour 25 mins and the luggage has been checked in. There is no need to take luggage or anything since everything has been done.

Do I need the visa for the short transit time?

The company did not say anything and does not know about it. I have read about C-1 transit visa, but there is not much time left before I have to go.

  • Do you need to switch planes at SF? – Srihari Yamanoor Oct 1 '16 at 5:14
  • The short duration of the transit doesn't change the requirement to have a visa. You can transit with other kinds of visas than the C-1, if you already have one, but you do need a visa. – phoog Oct 1 '16 at 5:14
  • @pnuts what will happen if i reach there and have no visa? :( The C-1 visa needs to be applied 2 months beforehand and I only have about 2 weeks time left.. – Work Travelling Oct 1 '16 at 5:22
  • @SrihariYamanoor yes, big chance I have to change plane, but it is within the same terminal and same airways. – Work Travelling Oct 1 '16 at 5:22
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    @pnuts Ok, thanks I will try to find way out. Either apply the visa or change the flight. – Work Travelling Oct 1 '16 at 5:42

Yes. Malaysian citizens need a US visa to transit the United States. You will need to apply for one at a US Consulate, which generally requires an application (and the visa fee), appointment, and interview.

You should check to see how long the Consulate near you is taking to process visas and when appointments are available. This information is generally on their website. If there is not sufficient time to get a visa, or you do not wish to apply for one, you'll need to get your company to change your flights to a routing that does not cross the United States, which will likely involve the payment of a change fee and the difference in fare.

If you already hold another type of US visa (such as a B-1/B-2 visitors visa), that may be sufficient for your transit. Let us know what you have in the comments if this is the case.

As a sidenote, assuming you get the visa and do transit the US, you will still have to pick up your checked luggage in US Customs and drop them off again at the transfer desks so they can be loaded on to your next flight. 1:25 is not a ton of time for this--it is doable if there are no lines, but it would be a good idea to allow more time, as non-stop flights to Singapore may only run once a day (just United flight #1 right now, though Singapore Airlines is restarting a flight soon), and if you miss it, you'll have to wait.

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  • Okay, I see. I don't have any US visa. So, no matter what kind of transit and how short the transit is, I will still need the visa and take my things and checked-in again to next flight... I guess better to change the flight route then. – Work Travelling Oct 1 '16 at 5:40
  • @WorkTravelling Yes, no matter what kind of transit or how short it is, you need permission to enter the US. For a Malaysian citizen, that requires a visa. Getting your company to change the flight to avoid the US is going be the best option if there isn't time to apply for a visa. If you can apply for a visa, be sure to apply right away. – Zach Lipton Oct 1 '16 at 5:47
  • Why would the luggage go through US Customs? – robert Oct 1 '16 at 13:45
  • @robert Everyone entering the US must go through US Customs, even if you're about to take another flight out of the country. You go through immigration, take the bags, bring them through customs, then drop them off again at a counter so they can be loaded on the next flight. The exceptions are if you're on a preclearence flight (including those from many Canadian airports), where you go through customs before flying to the US, and a special system at IAH airport where international-to-international passengers don't need to claim bags unless they are selected for a search. – Zach Lipton Oct 1 '16 at 19:24

All people flying through the USA need entry documents into the USA. Unlike airports with sterile international transit lounges, all USA airports require passengers enter into the USA to change planes. So yes you need a transit visa or B1/B2 visa and your 1:25 transfer time will be tight.

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  • okay, thanks. So, no matter what kind of transit and how short the transit is, I will still need the visa and take my things n checked-in again to next flight... I guess better to change the flight route then. – Work Travelling Oct 1 '16 at 5:38

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