I am an Indian citizen who is a permanent resident Card holder in Canada. So, my nationality does not come under the US VWP. I wanted to transit through the USA for a trip to India next year. But I read that in order to transit through the USA (even if I do not plan to enter), I would still require a US visa. After some research I think that I need to apply for a ESTA visa. Is this information correct? Am I also correct in assuming that ESTA can be granted rather quickly and I also would not need to attend an interview.

  • No you need a B1 or similar visa and you need to go for an interview. Done exactly the same in the past.
    – Dipen Shah
    Dec 17, 2018 at 16:53
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    This is a question for our sister site Travel and it is already answered there. Dec 17, 2018 at 18:09
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    It's worth noting that switching Canada and the US in the question would lead to a different outcome; Canada waives the visa requirement for US permanent residents and allows them to fly to Canada with eTA, but the US doesn't do the same for Canadian permanent residents. @DipenShah I would also note that the transit visa is a C-1 visa, but for anyone who anticipates traveling to the US for another reason it's probably better to apply for a B visa because the cost is the same.
    – phoog
    Dec 17, 2018 at 21:10
  • @MichaelHampton So what exactly is a question that is fit for expatriates? I am also a member on the Travel StackExchange. I always thought that visa questions go on Expatriates and Travel tips etc go on the Travel platform Dec 18, 2018 at 14:32
  • Expatriates is about long term travel, such as for work, study, or immigrating to a new country permanently. Dec 18, 2018 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


ESTAs are not visas, and are only available to citizens of countries within the US visa waiver program. As an Indian, you are not eligible. There are no exceptions for Canadian residents. Since the concept of international transit doesn't really exist for US airports, you actually will need to "enter" the US. You must apply for a visa.

  • Surely an ESTA is a visa by any definition except that used by the USA's own bureaucracy.
    – TRiG
    Dec 17, 2018 at 19:21
  • @TRiG So that means ETIAS will be a visa, too?! Dec 17, 2018 at 20:00
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    @TRiG Canada also doesn't consider its eTA to be a visa, so presumably they're happy to consider ESTA as something other than a visa. The fact is that different countries mean different things by the word. Some countries consider authorization documents issued by officers at the border to be a visa; others do not. There's simply no uniform definition of the term in international law or as far as I can tell in any other international context.
    – phoog
    Dec 17, 2018 at 21:06

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