Many students avoid traveling during STEM OPT, if their F1 visa stamp has expired on their passport. They are worried that there would be issues with F1 stamping and they cannot come back…while some of the fear is true and understandable, but there are positive outcomes as well. Below is an experience shared by our reader, Heer with successful F1 stamping using Dropbox in India. Thanks to Heer for taking time to share experience with us. You can share yours as well here.
F1 Visa Renewal Experience using Dropbox Option or Interview Waiver Program
Background : Hi Everyone – my case is for F1 visa renewal on STEM OPT, but thought it might be helpful for some of you. My case was renewing F1 visa which expired 6 months ago – however I was still under F1 Status due to being granted a STEM OPT EAD by USCIS.
Documents Checklist for F1 Visa Stamping Renewal using Dropbox during STEM OPT :
Below documents that were require
- Copy of current I-20 with STEM OPT approved.
- Photocopy of my OPT EAD card with STEM OPT approved (the visa waiver checklist does not list this document, but it is critical, and if you don’t provide it, there is a chance of it going under 221G and the applicant being required to show up for an interview to verify the document and provide a I-983)
- Photograph under the requirements provided in the IWP checklist. (VFS offices are very strict with photos, my photograph was correct in every way, except my eyes were looking up just a little bit and the refused to accept it and I had to get another picture taken – fortunately there is a place pretty close to the drop box location in Mumbai which can do rush photos )
- Interview Waiver Program(IWP) Confirmation letter
- DS160 Confirmation Letter
Status of Events – F1 Visa Stamping Renewal using Dropbox
- 3rd Dec 2018 (Monday) – Submitted docs to drop off location in Mumbai (took 15 minutes)
- 4th Dec – 11th Dec – “Application Received” case last updated 4th December
- 12th Dec – “Application Received” case last updated 12th December
- 13th Dec – Admin processing (3:30PM)
- 14th Dec (Friday) – Issued. (10:30AM)
- 14th Dec – “Ready for pick up” (passport tracker) – around 3:30PM
- 16th Dec (Sunday) – Picked up from Mumbai location
Overall duration – took around 11 days.
Things to Note from my F1 Visa Stamping Renewal Experience using Dropbox
- Delays in Visa Issuance: I was pretty anxious, because I had heard most people got their visa in 3-4 days. I spoke to someone who use to work in the consulate many years ago and they assured me that the months of November to January are really hectic and slow. Due to thanksgiving, Diwali, and December holidays there are a lot of Visas to process and very few consular officers working since many of them go home to visit family and take time off. Additionally the IWP cases are low priority with a huge amount of interview cases to process. That’s probably why from 4-11th there was no update on my case.
- VFS Workers Words. – Do Not get Stressed : If you are renewing during mid Nov-early Jan, and the VFS worker says your documents should be ready in 3-4 days, don’t believe them, and don’t get stressed out if the documents come in a few days later than you expect. The consular officers are dealing with a ton of renewals in India, and it can be a bit slow as they are short staffed. Please account for this as you plan travel, I had to cancel my return ticket twice, and take additional vacation.
- Call Centers, Email Support : You making calls to call center for support or emailing them is of little use as they will only provide standard response and may not give you more info. It can be stressful, but unfortunately, you will only get standard response.
- When to Check Visa Stamping Status on CEAC website : We all maybe curious to check the CEAC website every hour for updates, but based on my experience, updates usually happen at two timings around 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM. If you can check around that time, it is good enough, no need to stress out and check every hour.
Did you renew your F1 visa using Dropbox ? What was your experience ? Share your thoughts