US Visa Dropbox eligibility Changed to 24 months News

US Visa Dropbox Eligibility Changed to 24 months, until Dec 31

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 41 Comments

US Visa Stamping at Consulates usually involves in-person interview, unless you qualify for the Interview Waiver Eligibility, which is popularly called as Dropbox Visa Appointment. In many cases, US Visa Dropbox Appointment is a must, if you are eligible for it.   In light of COVID and safety of everyone, US Department of State has announced small change in eligibility criteria for interview waiver or Dropbox stamping, we will cover that details in this article.

As a background, let’s quickly review the Dropbox process.

US Visa Stamping – In-Person Interview vs. Dropbox

In general, when you are applying for a new US Visa, as part of process to apply for US Visa, you would give biometrics and then attend in-person visa interview.  But, for renewing your existing US Visa, if you meet certain criteria, then you do not have to appear for in-person interview.  You can submit your visa related documents at Visa Application Center and your US visa maybe issued without interview.

Below are the requirements to be eligible for Dropbox Stamping for anyone above 80 years and below 14 years. You need to meet all of them

  • You need to have Visa renewal in same category. Meaning, let’s say you have renewal for H1B, your previous visa in passport should be H1B as well.
  • Most recent visa should have been issued in your same country (home country)
  • Visa was received after Jan 1, 2008
  • Your visa should not have annotations like “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”
  • You visa should be issued after 14th birthday
  • Your US visa was not lost, stolen or cancelled.
  • There were no US visa refusals in any other visa class, since your recent visa issuance
  • If applying for H, L or R visa, it should be valid or expired within last 12 months.  Also, if it is other classes of visa renewal, it is still same 12 months requirements (should be valid or expired in last 12 months)

Some general criteria for other visa types, ages

  • Blanket L1 holder do not qualify for Dropbox or interview waiver. Only Blanket L2 Spouses are eligible
  • If you are applying for F visa, you should be at same school for which your previous visa was issued.
  • If applying for J visa, your DS-2019 is also issued by same institution as it is on previous visa.
  • Children under 14 years of age are eligible for dropbox
  • Adults over 80 years of age are eligible for drop box, if their recent visa application was not refused.

Now that we know the background and eligibility, let’s look at what has changed.

Dropbox Stamping Requirement Extended to 24 months from Expiry

Due to COVID-19, many US Consulates are still functioning with limited appointments and not open for regular visa operations. To help the situation and avoid public risk, Secretary Pompeo after discussions with US Department of State has done some relaxations to the US Visa stamping requirements for Renewals/Dropbox Stamping until December 31, 2020.  

In the past, the requirement was “Your previous visa was in same class and valid or expired within last 12 months” . Now, they have changed that to “Your previous visa was in same class and valid or expired within last 24 months.

What does it mean? For example, let’s say you had H1B Visa issued from India and you were applying for H1B visa renewal in India on October 1st, 2020. For drop box eligibility, your US visa had to be valid or expired on or after October 1st, 2019. Now, with this change, you can apply for Dropbox Visa stamping, if your visa has expired on or after October 1st, 2018.  This provision is valid only until December 31st, 2020.

Usually, if you are eligible for Dropbox appointment, you would get a confirmation in the online system itself like below to schedule for Dropbox Appointment. So far, we do not have any updates on the US Consulates or US Travel Docs websites yet on how they would handle this. Also, we are not sure how they will handle drop box with Emergency Appointments. We need to wait for their instructions on how the whole thing works.

Schedule Dropbox Appointment Confirmation after New Change on USTravelDocs website
Online Dropbox Appointment Confirmation based on Eligibility

Below is the screenshot of official news alert from US Department of State

US Dept of State Update on Interview waiver requirement
US Dept of State Press Release on Interview Waiver 24 months Rule Change

What is the reality of US Visa Stampings ? Emergency Appointments?

Even though US Department of State announced that US Consulates may open from July 15th, the reality is that many of the consulates are not open for regular operations. Most of them are still operating in limited scope.  Check US Visa Consulates Updates COVID – India for complete details on the appointments, US Travel Docs updates.

For instance, in India, US Consulates recently announced that they would accept F, J visa stampings as regular visa appointments from August 17th. Other visa categories are still not available and need to use Emergency Appointment booking.  Also, they are not open for Dropbox Appointments or processing 221g cases.  

Until consulates resume regular visa operations, this relaxation may or may not help.  You need to wait for the US Travel Docs and Consulates in the country on how they will handle this new change. Will keep you all posted.

What do you think of the change? Will it help ease the waiting ?

You can connect with others in US Visa Stamping Telegram Group  and get help from community.

   

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Comments ( 41 )

  1. RUTVI DAVE

    I had a h1b visa from employer A that expired on Sept 1 2020. I changed my employer on Oct 2019 and got a new h1b visa till Sept 2022. I came to India on Aug 2020 and also have a previously cancelled appointment from March, where I selected interview as was suggested by others. Am I eligible for drop box? If I select “do you have a previous H-1B visa” it leads me interview waiver.

  2. Harsha

    Hi,

    I have a valid visa till Dec 31st, but seemingly difficult to travel by then. The visa was Stamped last December.

    I would like to know, if I can get my extension done while I am waiting on travel approval and also go for dropbox stamping.

    Thanks and regards,
    Harsha

  3. Shashi A

    Hi, My Visa expired on June 15th 2019 and got it approved till April 15th 2020, I didn’t visit after my visa expired. I am with same employer until now. I have following questions. Can someone please clarify?

    1. Am I eligible for drop box? If so until when (is it only until 12/31/2020) or I am eligible until June 15th 2021 (considering 24 months drop box new rule)

    2. Any idea on how many days it is taking to get the stamped passport during pandemic days (earlier it used to take 7-10 days)?

    3. My last visa was stamped in chennai embassy, if I am eligible for drop box then can I drop it any other locations too?

    Please clarify me. Based on this, I need to plan my india visit soon.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Shashi A

      Hi, My Visa expired on June 15th 2019 and got it approved till April 15th 2022(sorry earlier post I posted wrong date, but this one is correct), I didn’t visit India after my visa expired. I am with same employer until now. I have following questions. Can someone please clarify?

      1. Am I eligible for drop box? If so until when ? i.e. (is it only until 12/31/2020) or I am eligible until June 15th 2021 (considering 24 months drop box new rule)

      2. Any idea on how many days it is taking to get the stamped passport during pandemic days (earlier it used to take 7-10 days)?

      3. My last visa was stamped in chennai embassy, if I am eligible for drop box then can I drop it any other locations too?

      Please clarify me. Based on this, I need to plan my india visit soon.

      Thanks in advance.

  4. Prathyusha

    My H1B stamping/visa was expired on May 2019 and I was in US on June 24 when the travel ban was issued. I have applied extension got approval till Dec 2022 and I’m with same employer(EVC Model).
    So Am I eligible for drop box and do i need to still satisfy proclamation conditions? If so, what conditions i need to satisfy?

    1. Jane

      Is there anyone who stayed in USA even after June 24 ,2020 and who got H1b stamping successfully through Dropbox with out any issues while visiting India ?

  5. Suresh Kumar

    I have stamping at my passport till JUNE 2019(Expired Now) with Employer A and i switched into Company B on AUG 2019 after that i didn’t travel into India. But i have valid Approval Notice from Company B till year 2022(Not yet stamped). As per the new Drop Box rule(24 Months) and Proclamation do i eligible to apply in drop box on October 2020.

      1. Hema

        Kumar, Do we need any emergency appointment for dropbox in this scenario and will this come under exempt from presidential proclamation 10052.

      2. Suresh Kumar

        Thanks for the reply.

        But when i check in US Embassy India it described like below.

        “Consular sections across India are now accepting drop box applications for renewals of all nonimmigrant visa categories at Visa Application Centers across India. If you have a U.S. visa that is expiring soon or has expired in the last 24 months, you may be eligible for drop box processing: https://bit.ly/3hiMnaP
        . For H, L, and J categories subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052, applicants must also qualify for an exception to the proclamation: ”

        They are expecting it should be eligible in both Drop Box as well as H category should be eligible in Presidential Proclamation 10052. In My case i am eligible for Dropbox, but as per the proclamation it should be in Same Employer right? Mine is different employer. Still i am eligible in that case for Drop Box stamping in OCT2020?

  6. Manognya

    Hi Everyone,

    I have few questions and would appreciate any feedback and comments on these please:

    I am on a L2 EAD and my husband is only L1A and with the same employer. Our visa expired in 2019 March and we are on our extension in US.

    We plan to travel mid of December 2020 to India and wanted to know if we could have a Dropbox option for our visa and return back in Jan 2021 ?

    Also I don’t see anywhere it showing the dropbox appointment slots available for Hyd consulate. Not sure if I am missing something here.

    Kindly let me know as I am confused with the whole visa process right now.

    Thanks,
    Manu

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Monognya,
      If your expiry is less than 24 months and you meet all requirements, you will be able to.
      First step for you is to verify, if you would be eligible or not. You can pay fee, fill out DS-160 and try to book a slot. During that process, you will get eligibility confirmation. Then you plan to book dates.

      1. Sanmayi

        Hi evryone! Iam on H4Ead…my husband is on H1b…My husband applied for an extension in June 2020 …as our visa going to be expire on 30 sept 2020…. recently we got an extension …currently am in india .. my husband in u.s …. he is planning to visit India mid December 2020….want to know if we could have a Dropbox option for renewal? Please..Kindly let us know

      2. Manognya

        Thank you so much Mr Kumar for your prompt reply. Another quick question – you have mentioned expiry less than 24 months (could you kindly elaborate that please ?) I am little confused there.

        Thanks,

  7. Prashant Sajjan

    Hi,
    Currently I am in US and trying to schedule dropbox appointment for Chennai Consulate as my previous visa was issued by Chennai consulate . I had opted for dropbox last time too.

    But dropbox appointment for Chennai is unavailable. So I want to know can I schedule dropbox appointment at other locations like Delhi, Kolkata and get Visa stamped.

    Thanks in advance.

      1. Prashant Sajjan

        I called US Visa Customer care – +1 703-520-2239 and got information that we can schedule appointment at any location in India. There is no restriction to schedule only at Consulate which issued your previous Visa.

        But if anyone has done in the past can share their experience will be great.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Prashant,
          Yes, you can schedule anywhere, no restriction. Usually, they may ask at Consulate whey you scheduled, you just have to give the real reason…

      1. Radhika

        When I click the renewal category it shows “some countries have been recently updated .If you are seeing this page please update your links “.

  8. parthosh

    Hi,
    I have a valid H1b visa stamping till september19th 2020 with my previous employer but i was not in USA in june . Now I am with different company and my visa is valid till may 2021. I have dropbox scheduled on september 22nd but I am unsure if I am eligible for dropbox because of the proclamation and my visa expires before the appointment and it might be considered as a new H1b visa with new employer.

    Please help. I am currently in USA and planning to come back for stamping since my wife is still in usa waiting for new H4 visa.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      parthosh,
      Well, there is a clause that tells that you need be exempted. If they believe, you do not qualify, they will not issue your visa and issue a 212(f) regarding the same.

  9. sammy

    hi,
    i had my 6yrs of h1b until dec-2018 and this year i applied for a new h1b in apr and was approved in august and when tried to schedule visa appointment i got below question and was eligible for dropbox, what are my chances for approval with EO ban in place or will i get 221 g ?

    Step 1 : Select whether you are applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa or an Immigrant Visa.
    Nonimmigrant Visa
    Step 2 : Please Select Your Country or State of Residence.
    india
    Step 3 : Language Of Interview.
    english
    Select Visa Class: (H1B)

    Step 6 : Please make sure all selected information is correct before continuing.

    Step 5 : Please make sure all personal information is correct before continuing.

    Step 6 : Please click “Add by Name” or “Add Existing Applicant” if you have a group/family member (including a child) who needs to apply for a visa with you.

    Do you have a previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee)?
    yes
    Was your prior H1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”?
    no
    Was your most recent visa (in the same class for which you are applying) lost or stolen or cancelled?
    no
    Have you ever been refused a H-1B (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) visa before?
    no
    Is your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) still valid?
    no
    Did your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) expire within the last 24 months?
    yes
    Note:Please be sure to select an interview waiver submission date at least 7 calendar days before your visa has been expired 24 months.

    Was your most recent H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) issued in India after January 1, 2008?
    yes

  10. Yogish

    Hey Guys,

    Couple of questions on visa extension, suppose if I loose my job and my I 94 expired and travelled back to home country, if my new employer file new petition and transfer my H1B with in 12months, am I still eligible for interview waiver ? Do I get extension for 3years even if extension is filed in 12th month ?

    Regards,
    Yogish

  11. Anudeep

    Hi,
    I am staying here and my wife is in India, will she be applicable for drop box application in H4 category?

    Note: she never had an visa! If so could you please share some information

  12. Naresh

    Hi, Currently I’m in US and plan to go to India in November 2020.
    My H1B stamping/visa was expired on May 2018.
    Applied extension got approved till 12/31/2019 then again applied extension approved until 12/31/2022 in March 2020.
    I’m with same employer and working as consultant. I’m working in the EVC model.
    Me –> Employer -> Prime vendor –> Client
    Due to the recent dropbox change i.e. 24 months. Am I eligible for dropbox option? Please advise

      1. Naresh

        Hi Kumar, Thanks for your reply.
        Sorry for the typo mistake. My H1B stamping/visa was expired on May 2019 so i’m eligible for drop box , correct? But do i need to still satisfy proclamation conditions as well if I want to comeback to US in Jan /Feb 2021 ? Please advice.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Naresh,
          Yes, you still need to satisfy the proclamation conditions as per the guidance given by them on the consulate website. Currently, the proclamation is until Dec 31, 2020. If you plan to come later, it may or may not apply.

    1. Shweta

      Hi Everyone,

      My h1 got picked and approved for the first time in lottery, and have never been on h1 before. It would come in effect from oct 1, 2020. Would i be eligible for dropbox option?

      Thanks in advance!

  13. RameshS

    Hi Kumar,

    I was in the US on June 24 and require a stamping if I visit India to come back. Am I eligible for Dropbox? I don’t qualify for an emergency appointment but was wondering whether I can get my stamping via dropbox. Thanks!

  14. Prakash

    Hi,

    I am currently in the US and plan to go to India in Oct. My visa got expired in feb 2020 and I have a valid I797 that was extended last nov from feb 2020 to Jan 2023. Do you know if I stayed in the US after June 24th, if I am exempted from the proclamation ?

    Thanks in advance for your help!!

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