H1B Visa Renewal Stamping Dropbox Experience – Chennai, India 2014

In Visa Experiences by Kumar239 Comments

One of our readers, Sathish has shared his detailed H1B Visa Dropbox Renewal experience with us. I believe, this is the first experience for Dropbox submission. It is written very clearly and gives you a clear picture of the exact process.  Congrats to Sathish on his Visa Stamping and Thanks to him for taking time to share his experience with our readers. You can share your experience with our readers here

Background Info:
—————-
I am working in EVC ( Employer-Vendor-Client) model. I got my first H1B visa stamped till Sep 2013 in Chennai last year. I visited Chennai again this year and I was eligible for Dropbox since it is not more than 12 months since my visa was expired (and same petitioner & same visa category).

Document Checklist for H1B Visa Dropbox Renewal :
——————-
1. Passport (Both old and new). – Mandatory Document
2. DS160 confirmation page. – Mandatory Document
3. Dropbox confirmation page. – Mandatory Document
4. Visa fees receipt.
5. I797 Document Photocopy. – Mandatory Document
6. I129 Document Photocopy. – Supporting Document
7. LCA Document Photocopy. – Supporting Document
8. Employer Verification Letter. – Supporting Document
9. Payslips of last 6 months. – Supporting Document
10. 2013 W2. – Supporting Document

H1B Visa Dropbox Submission Process
Appointment : No Appointment needed for Dropbox.
Location : TPL House, Teynampet, Chennai.

I was at VFS office around 10am and was asked by security personnel to stand in queue that was formed for Passport pickup (There will be less number of dropbox cases so there wont be separate queue for it).

Step 1 : Preliminary Documents Checking by VFS Agent – Changed Photos
I had to wait for like 20 mins before security personnel let me in. A VFS agent checked all my document before letting me inside the building. He was checking my DS160, Dropbox confirmation letter and my photos. He asked to me bring different photos since my new passport had the same photo. I was explaining for sometime like it is never mentioned anywhere in US Travel Docs that same photo from passport should never be used (same photo from old visa should never be used however). Agent told he can still let me in but it is not worth the risk and I would be sent back to bring new photos. I didnt want to take any chance so I went out again to take new photos. With new photos I didnt have to stand in queue again.

Also my surname in new passport is left blank by mistake, so I had consulate put an observation in my passport. VFS is checking for any observation page if Surname in Passport and DS160 are not same (Just in case if anyone is having observation made in passport).

Step 2 : Documents Submission, Fee payment
I went inside the building and waited for my turn to get called, roughly like 15 minutes. VFS agent in one of the windows requested me to submit the documents. I submitted my Passports, I797 photocopy (original is not required), DS160 confirmation page, dropbox confirmation page, Visa fee receipt, 2 photos. VFS agent gave visa fee receipt back to me. He was checking all the documents and making entries in his system at this point. It took like 10 minutes. In the meantime, I asked him whether I can submit any supporting documents. His answer was NO and the documents that I had produced thus far are good enough. His answer was resounding enough to convince myself so I didn’t ask any further question about supporting document. Finally he said I am all set and I can check the status using my passport number and expect passport in a week. He gave me the signed dropbox confirmation letter back for reference.

This is my 4th successful stamping experience(all in Chennai) for 3 different visa categories, obviously the dropbox one is the hassles free enjoyable experience of all.

Key Things to Remember
For dropbox, My recommendation would be just to submit the mandatory documents when VFS agent request you to submit the required documents. I carried supporting documents only for the reason that when VFS agent ask me to submit any of them I should be in a position to submit instead of telling I don’t have one. Even if VFS agent had told YES to my question on submitting supporting docs, I was intended to submit only employer letter & payslips (just to prove I am with same employer). Guys working on EVC model, take it easy on Vendor letter/Client letter. Dropbox is working like a charm, so please keep it simple. At least my personal view.
I got automated mail from US travel docs that my passport is ready to be picked up in like 2 days time. Here are the timelines for reference.

Hope USCIS keep this dropbox option for H1B stampings for good and long 🙂

Processing time – 3 Days ! 
Dropbox Submission – April 21st
Passport was ready to be picked up by – April 23rd.
Passport was picked up my me on – April 28th.

General Info – H or L Visa Renewal  :

If you are renewing your H or L Visa with the same employer and your current visa is still valid or expired within the last 12 months (Blanket L1 is not eligible ), you may be eligible for Dropbox visa stamping. To check your eligibility, you can visit  the US Consulate Website

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Comments ( 239 )

  1. Kishore Kumar

    Hello Saurabh,
    My h1b visa was expired on Sept 2016 and I am planning to travel to india in April for a month time, currently visa is transferred to another employer and has validity till 2019. i i i have paid 190$ fee and got drop box(interview waiver) confirmation.
    But am unable to fix appointment for finger prints.
    Please let me know do we need to fix the appointment when Drop box is confirmed?
    Kindly advise

  2. Phani Golla

    Can the drop box location and pickup location of the passport be different?
    I want to put Hyderabad as my drop box location, but for the passport return pickup in Hyderabad is only on wednesdays.So can i keep the passport return pickup location as Chennai?

    Please clarify!

  3. KARAN WATS

    Hello !! I have a visa extension for 6 days from June 24th to 30th June 2016 with my previous employer(6 days extension ) with approved I 797. Currently I am working with another employer with approved I797 from July1st 2016 to June 30th 2017.
    I am going to India and my question is that do I have to get both of these stamped or only the one I am currently on?

  4. HARIHARAN SWAMINATHAN

    I am confused to answer this one question “Is your previous H-1B visa still Valid?”
    1.There is no change in the Employer
    2.H1B visa was expired 2 Months Back (Previous I797 and Stamping on the Passport)
    3.New Visa extension I797 has validity upto next year

    Question: Is your previous H-1B visa still Valid? –> Should it be Yes or No?

  5. Paul Peter

    Hi,

    My current visa expires this month end (Oct 31st ) 2016 and I have got extension till 2019.I am eligible for Drop Box, Am planning for 10 days vacation on Jan end 2017 .My query is , 10 days is enough to get the passport after visa stamping through drop box ?Please advise.

    Jan 27 -Arrived India and went for Drop Box, When I can expect my Passport after visa stamped?Return to US planned for Feb 8.

    1. Gari

      Usually Yes should be sufficient, but you never know better to plan according to the actual said duration but tentatively should be fine.

  6. Swaroop

    Need your advice. I am in India currently on an emergency travel. I had changed my employer in May 2016. I have an approved petition from my new employer till March 2017. I also have valid visa stamp till February 2017 with my previous employer. I want to know if I am eligible for dropbox option instead of attending the interview for visa for H1B and H4.

  7. Gari

    Hi,
    Very useful and nice Q&A.

    Ive a situation -I have approved i797’s for primary and dependents all till May-2019 but primary petitioner (myself) not going out of US at the moment but dependents H-4’s (spouse & child) have to go to India and are eligible for IWP/Dropbox.

    Question: can my spouse go for Dropbox without primary (H1-B cannot travel and currently stays in US due to workload). do consulate also asks if primary (H1B) also has to appear mandatory for visa stamping in order dependents can get visa stamped without primary H1B along with them ?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Gari,

      Yes dependents can appear for H-4 visa stamping through dropbox even though you haven’t got the visa stamped for the extended petition.

  8. Yogi

    Hi There,
    My H1b visa was expired on June 2014, since then I have changed two employers and my current Petition (I-797) is valid till Apr 2019.
    Since my visa got expired more than 12 months ago and I also have changed 2 employers, am I still eligible for drop box option ? I plan to go India this Dec for 2 weeks.

    Please advise.

    Thanks,
    Yogi

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Yogi,

      You are not eligible for dropbox as the old visa expired more than 12 months ago. Change of employers has no impact on dropbox eligibility.

  9. Yogi

    Hi There,
    My H1b visa was expired on June 2014, since then I have changed two employers and my current Petition (I-797) is valid till Apr 2019.
    Since my visa got expired more than 12 months ago and I also have changed 2 employers, am I still eligible for drop box option ? I plan to go India this Dec for 2 weeks.

    Please advise.

    Thanks,
    Yogi

  10. Kishore

    Hi,

    My visa was expired on May 2016 and I am planning to travel to india on Nov for a month time, currently visa is transferred to another employer and has validity till 2019. Now i need to go new stamping. I have a renewed my passport recently.
    Will be eligible for drop box facility with change in employer and renewed passport? Kindly advise

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Kishore,

      You are eligible for dropbox even though you changed employer and have a new passport. Dropbox locations can be looked up on us travel docs site.

  11. Abhishek Agarwal

    Hi Saurabh,
    I applied for H4 in May’16 and got it stamped June 24 to Sept 10. I went to US in this period and applied for my H4 EAD. Now I have my H4 extension (I 797 A) approved and my H4EAD (I797) is approved.

    Now I want to travel to US on EAD:
    1) Should I apply for visa stamping?
    2) If yes, shall I apply for Drop box facility?
    3) how much time does this process take and what is the complete process?

    Regards,
    Abhishek Agarwal

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Abhishek Agarwal,

      1. EAD is not a travel entry document, but a visa is. So if your H-4 visa has expired, then you need to apply for one
      2. You may be eligible for dropbox if the old H-4 visa didn’t expire more than 365 days ago.
      3. Visa stamping if approved should be issued within 1 week.

      When did you leave US?

      1. Abhishek

        Hi Saurabh,

        I really appreciate on the prompt response from you!!
        I left US on 9th July ’16. Also, do you what all documents will be required for this?

        Regards,
        Abhishek Agarwal

          1. administrator
            Saurabh

            Abhishek,

            Mandatory documents are H-1 holder’s 797 copy, passport, dropbox letter. Supporting documents should also be carried (in case they are asked for) like marriage certificate.

  12. meenakshi

    Hi

    I have a strange scenario, can someone please help me here, My current H1 will be expiring in Jan 2017, I have filed my extension in premium with USICS already, i should be hearing from them in a week time. Now here is the lock, I need to go to India for a week time in November . I believe i would be eligible for the DROP BOX, but the question is my travel plan is only for 5 days,

    1)will that be suffice ?
    2) can i skip drop box inspite of having a new extension in US and use my old petition

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