Travelers who qualify for visa-free travel under the Visa Waiver Program may transit to the United States. Prior to boarding the air or sea carrier you are required to obtain travel authorization under ESTA.
Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), visitors to the United States from participating countries can travel without obtaining a visa for stays of up to 90 days for business or tourism purposes. When it comes to transit in the USA, the rules depend on the specific situation.
If you are transiting through the United States on your way to another country, you can generally do so without obtaining a visa under the VWP. However, you must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval and meet all other VWP requirements. You also must depart the United States within 90 days and cannot work or study while in transit.
If you are transiting through the United States on your way to another country, but you need to change airports or leave the airport for any reason, you must obtain a transit visa or a visitor visa. This is because leaving the airport counts as entering the United States and requires the appropriate visa.
It's important to note that the VWP only applies to certain countries and visitors must meet specific requirements, including having a valid passport, being admissible to the United States, and not having a previous violation of U.S. immigration law. It's recommended to check the official website of the U.S. Department of State for the most up-to-date information and to contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country if you have any questions or concerns about transit in the United States under the VWP.
If transiting the United States to a destination in Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands, you may re-enter the United States on the return journey using any mode of transport, as long as the total visit, including both periods of time spent in transit and in Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands, does not exceed 90 days. If transiting to a destination outside of Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands, the return journey must be on a participating carrier, but need not be within 90 days, as you will be required to make a new application for admission. If you are transiting the United States to take up residence in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or the Caribbean Islands you must be legal permanent residents of these areas.