US consulate general in India quietly updated their visa processing website ustraveldocs.com today, making changes to the way they process US Visa stampings using Interview Waiver option, popularly called as Dropbox. There was no official press release on the US consulate or embassy page on this topic, but an unclassified document was released last week that was circulated in social media and the ustraveldocs.com home page was updated with small alert. Though we got a copy of it, we held on to it as we received no confirmation from US embassy. In any case, in this article, we will look at the changes to US Visa dropbox or Interview Waiver process, what it means to anyone going for US Visa stamping and FAQs on the same.
To get an understanding of current process, you may read some of previous 6 H1B Dropbox Experiences in India and recent H4 Dropbox Experience in 2019 to get idea of how they were processed until Aug 30th, 2019. Now that you know the previous process, let’s dive into details of what’s new.
What has changed with US Visa Stamping Renewal with Dropbox Option in India ?
Starting September 1st, 2019, if you are eligible for US Visa Interview Waiver, aka Dropbox option, you must schedule an appointment date to drop off your passport and all the supporting US visa application documents. This is applicable for all drop box option/ interview waiver applicants filing for their US Visa renewal or stamping in India. The biggest changes are three :
- In the past, you had an option to go for drop box, but it was not mandatory, and you had a choice. Now, it is mandatory for you to go for drop box option, if you qualify for interview waiver.
- In the past, no appointment was required with Visa Application Center, but now you must schedule an appointment beforehand to drop off your documents.
- In the past, the average processing times for interview waiver or dropbox was average of 3 weeks and there was no SLA. Now, from September 1st, the dropbox applicant will get a decision on their case within 7 to 10 business days from the day they submitted their documents. This is going to be very helpful for many!
What does the text on the Official Visa Application Center Website Say ?
There are some text additions and removals on the US visa application processing website of India. Below are the screenshots of before and after the changes done to the interview waiver option / drop box option. It clearly tells that “eligible applicants MUST schedule an appointment date”.
USTravelDocs India Website Text before the Mandatory Appointment change
USTravelDocs India Website Text after the Mandatory Appointment Change
How does the Dropbox appointment confirmation look on USTravelDocs?
Thanks to our readers for sharing the below. If you are eligible for Visa Dropbox, you will get a confirmation like below to schedule the appointment. It clearly tells that you need to schedule an appointment and gives you directions for next steps.
What has NOT changed in the US visa interview waiver or Dropbox Option ?
The primary criteria for US visa interview waiver or dropbox option has not changed. The documents required has not changed, you are still required to submit all the required documents. Besides the above, there are few more subtle changes on how the overall new process will work. They are covered in the frequently asked questions. Check below FAQs.
What all US Visa types does the new mandatory Dropbox Appointment Impact?
It applies to all of the US visa stamping applications that are currently eligible for interview waiver or dropbox. Below are the some of the most common visa types that are relevant for our readers
- If you are H4 Visa holder waiting for approval with Biometrics and traveled out for stamping, then it applies to you.
- If you are a H1B or L1 visa holder applying for visa renewal, then it applies to you.
- F1 visa holder going for visa renewal, who are studying in same school for which visa was issued in the past
Now that we know, what the change is and who all it applies to, let’s look at some of the most common questions like when can I book appointment, can someone else drop documents, can I do it from US, where all can I go, etc.
Yes, you can schedule the appointment from US or anywhere in the world, before you arrive in India to drop off your documents, if you are eligible for interview waiver or dropbox option.
You will get a decision on your visa stamping within 7 to 10 business days from the day you dropped off your documents.
Yes, you can ask someone else like your friend, spouse or travel agent to submit your visa application documents on your behalf. You need to ensure, all the documents as per checklist are in there. Also, submitting parties may need to provide their identity documents as well
Yes, you can reschedule the appointment. They will mark your receipt as unused after 24 hours and then you can re-schedule to new date and print new confirmation letter for drop off of the documents.
You select the location of drop off and the date for the appointment. No time slot is given, you are free to submit documents anytime from 10 AM to 4 PM on that day. See below.
Yes, both of you can technically select the same date and drop off documents together. As the there are no time slots, you can visit together between 10 am and 4 pm on that day and drop off documents together. See above screenshot on the timing.
No, you can only submit your visa stamping documents at the specified dropbox location on your drop off documents confirmation letter. This would be selected, when you book the appointment for drop off of your documents.
No, the applicant need to be physically present in India to submit the visa stamping documents. Only the appointment scheduling can be done, when you are in US.
It is suggested to select dropbox location to drop off documents at the below centers based on where you plan to give visa interview. If you were to be called for interview, you will be called in the respective consulate that is tied to the relevant drop off location. So, choose this carefully, if you prefer a choice.
Applicants for Delhi Consulate : Drop off at New Delhi, Chandigarh or Jalandhar centers
Applicants for Mumbai Consulate : Drop off at Mumbai, Ahmedabad or Pune centers.
Applicants for Chennai Consulate : Drop off at Chennai, Kochi or Bangalore.
Applicants for Hyderabad Consulate : Drop off at Hyderabad Center.
Applicants for Kolkata Consulate : Drop off at Kolkata Center
No, you cannot change the US Visa interview location. You must attend the visa interview at the location you were asked to attend. It is important to choose your preferred drop off location tied to the consulate as listed above, when you book the appointment.
No, you must appear for the interview. You cannot skip, if you were asked to attend the visa interview.
Yes, it is mandatory. You will need to select the appointment date, location to drop off your documents. It is not optional anymore.
You will be allowed to get the missing documents and submit on the same day. If you cannot submit as per checklist, then you cannot submit on that day, you will need to re-schedule your dropbox appointment.
No need to schedule appointment, if you have already printed visa waiver letters. You have till September 30th to submit the documents using walk-in. See below from the website.
Below is the document that was circulated in Social media from past week, you can check it out.
What do you all think of the new change ? Is it going to be good ? Your thoughts ?
References : USTravelDocs.com – Visa Waiver official Page