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F1 Visa Renewal Experience with STEM OPT using Dropbox – India

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

  1. Copy of current I-20 with STEM OPT approved.
  2. 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)
  3. Passport.
  4. 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 )
  5. Interview Waiver Program(IWP) Confirmation letter
  6. 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


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  1. This is great info for anyone trying to get their F-1 visa restamped for transitioning into OPT. My situation is exactly the same as described in this experience: F-1 expired 6 months ago and EAD card just got approved.
    However, looks like there are some confusions regarding some questions in the DS-160 application.
    1. For example, as Nalini raised the question about one of the questionnaire’s that asks ‘ Are you continuing as student at same school for which previous visa was issued’. It is not clear from this post what is to do here. It seems if one answers ‘NO’ then the applicant is directed to interview. Will highly appreciate if anyone can tell what people have been doing and if they answered ‘NO’, were they still able to get interview waiver.
    2. It is not clear if the one should fill out their DS-160 first and then use the ‘cgifederal.secure.force.com’ account to request for appointment waiver or one can get the interview waiver sorted out first before filling out DS-160.

    Many people move away from their university for OPT and it will be the case for me. Therefore, I believe most people will say ‘NO’ to the question. This question seems to be the crux of the matter here to get the interview waiver and getting this cleared once and for all will be very helpful.

    Looking forward to reading everyone else’s thought on this.

  2. Hi,

    I came here as a student and after my master’s I have got my Practical training for 3 years. During that, I have applied for my H1B but It did not get picked in the lottery. So, I had to apply for my second master’s but my Student Visa is expired in August 2020 and my Stem OPT expired on April 22nd.
    1. I am planning to travel to India in November 2021 and I am a bit confused and a little worried about how my visa interview would be?
    2. Am I eligible for dropbox or should I go with the regular visa interview process?

    • AM,
      1. Well, you should be eligible for interview waiver as you can go for Dropbox.
      2. yes, you should be eligible. You can register an account on CGIFederal website and use the questionnaire, it will tell you, if you are eligible or not.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the details. I have one more question.. When I am applying for F1 renewal under OPT, there is a question that states: Are you continuing as student at same school for which previous visa was issued. What did you answer for this? I know I am not a student anymore, but I am still at the same university as a Post Doc. Any input form you will be greatly helpful. Like you, my VISA got expired 6 months ago only.


    • I am being asked the same question too ! if you say yes, then it says you don’t have to undergo training but if you say no, its scheduling for the interview. So, I don’t know if I have to answer that I am continuing as a student or not since i am on F1 STEM OPT.

      • Did you get the dropbox confirmation ? In general, you will need to go through a questionnaire and it will ask you there, if you qualify, you can go for dropbox. Check Dropbox Experience, there you can see a yellow confirmation, thats what you should get for dropbox…

        • The confirmation on dropbox is dependent on the answer to the above question: ” Are you continuing as student at same school for which previous visa was issued?” We are interested to know what your answer was and what is the situation under which the answer will be different.

          • nalini,
            You are considered a continuing student, the simple reason is that F1 visa is only given for Students. You are technically getting practical training in Student status. You are tied to the school as your status is determined by the I-20 given by your school. I-20 is only given to students. You can read state.gov F1 Do share what you get.

  4. My scenario: I’m on STEM-OPT with validity up to Aug 2021, My current F1-visa stamp is expiring at the end of Dec 2019. Questions:

    1. According to conditions of IWP(https://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu/cu-niv-renewal.asp), I think, I’m not eligible since, for the current F1-visa stamp which I got 4 years ago, I had to go through 221g!.
    So, I have to take an interview again!. Does this gonna complicate things?

    2. Assuming, they don’t want to issue F1 extension for a short period of validity(close to additional 2 years from now), would they rescind the current valid F1-visa (valid until Dec 2019)too? I mean, once the extension application is rejected, would they cross off the current F1-visa stamp?
    If they do! returning to the USA is not possible until the employer applies for an H1B visa!, but If a visa officer doesn’t cross off the current stamp then I can still enter lawfully into states and just work on valid OPT for the rest of the period. Any suggestions, what happens to the current valid F1 stamp if they reject the extension application?

      • All over the internet people just say “Tricky”, Do you have a webpage/link/example to support it, if you could provide one that would be awesome. Also, putting “Stamp of canceled without prejudice” is for some other purpose, nothing to do with my case based on the link you have provided. Instead, on here and other forums I have only found cases that they got Visa either in a normal process or max. by 221g(which delays getting visa 6-8 weeks). If I attach the below documents:

        – Current offer letter
        – Valid passport
        – Valid F1-visa stamp
        – I-94
        – I-20 with travel signature
        – new STEM-OPT EAD
        – a letter from my employer to show my ties to the STEM-OPT: demonstrating the income, place of work, full-time employment tasks, etc and the reason for travel-visiting my family for 3 weeks!.

        I didn’t find a reason for denial? STEM-OPT is offered by USCIS under F1-visa. It’s a law. I’m not doing anything illegal, nor my employment is with a consultancy of any sort. It’s with a well-reputed & established company. I’m working in my area of study. I have a valid STEM-OPT EAD card. Why shall a visa officer argue about that when all documents clear? Moreover, I’m on practical training a.k.a, all documentation was provided by my company to USCIS, that’s why they have given EAD. I didn’t find a single case on the internet similar to my situation which has been denied. Is your answer is based on hunches/speculations, if not could you please point to some examples?

        • Anu,
          I understand your concern…There is no official explanation for tricky. The biggest reason it is tricky is, it can be hard to show non-immigrant intent after your education and you working in US, also with OPT done for sometime…Read Dual intent vs Nonimmigrant Intent.
          Look at it from Visa officer perspective, you have completed your studies, you did get some practical training, now what you will do is work more, apply for H1B and stay there…That’s one of the possibility right…Also, you could directly ask employer to apply for Green card without H1B, when in US, that’s another possibility too…H1B is a dual intent visa, unlike F1 is non-immigrant intent…These are my two cents, I will let you use your discretion and give your best shot. Good Luck !

          • Hello Kumar,
            Just to inform you. I got my visa re-stamped last month without any problem for the next 5 years. The process was quite smooth and straightforward. I simply followed online instruction on the US embassy. I’ve gone through a visa interview that existed for just 2 mins(visa has been approved!) and after that got my passport stamped and ready for pickup on the 4th day after the visa interview. Thanks for your input!

  5. How many months of STEM OPT was remaining when you went for F1 stamping?

    My F1 visa expires in November, 2019. But my STEM OPT expires in August, 2020. And I am planning to go to India in Jan, 2020.
    Since I will have just Seven months of STEM OPT remaining, will it affect my F1 visa renewal in any way?

  6. Hi,

    Did you apply for H1b on OPT before you went for this renewal? Can applying H1b be a negative impact on F1 renew? I applied H1b once during 3 years of OPT and didn’t get picked. Now I’m starting my masters at a top institution and want to go to India and get F1 re stamped. Thank you.

    • No, it will not have negative impact on F1 renewal. H1B decision is not related to your F1 visa. Dont worry, it will be fine.


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