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US Visa Stamping in India – Dropbox Appointment, OFC, FAQs

In general, you need to apply for Biometrics & US Visa Interview appointments if you need to get a US visa stamping on your passport. But, if you are applying for US Visa renewal, there is no need for biometrics and you only submit documents. In the past, before September 2019, you could walk into any US Visa Application Center(VAC) without any appointment and submit your documents. This changed starting in September 2019.

Starting in Sep 2019, US Consulates in India introduced appointments for US Visa stampings using the Interview Waiver option, popularly called Dropbox. In this article, we will look at the US Visa Dropbox or Interview Waiver process in India, what it means to anyone going for US Visa stamping, and FAQs.

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US Visa Stamping with Renewal, aka Dropbox – Appointments

Starting from 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 appointment booking applies to all dropbox/ interview waiver applicants filing for their US Visa renewal or stamping in India.  

Below are the three biggest changes since the introduction of the appointments for Dropbox:

  • Dropbox Submission Mandatory: In the past (before Sep 2019), for US Visa renewals, you had the option to go for dropbox, but it was not mandatory. It was your choice to pick Dropbox or an in-person appointment. But, starting from Sep 1st, 2019, it is mandatory for you to go for the dropbox option, if you qualify for the interview waiver option based on the questions answered on the USTravelDocs Portal website. Only exception is, if you have an emergency or compelling circumstance and you want to get an expedited appointment.
  • Dropbox Appointment Mandatory: In the past(before September 2019), no appointment was required with Visa Application Center(VAC) to drop off documents. But starting in September 2019, you must schedule an appointment beforehand to drop off your documents for Dropbox stamping.
  • Faster Processing Time: In the past, the average processing time for an interview waiver or Dropbox was about 3 weeks, and there was no SLA.  From September 1st, 2019, the dropbox applicant will get a decision on their case within 7 to 10 business days from the day they submitted their documents.

Official Guidance – USTravelDocs Website

As per the official guidance from the USTravelDocs.com India website for renewing a US visa, they clearly say that “starting September 1st, eligible applicants MUST schedule an appointment in order to drop off their passports…“. September 1st in the below screenshot corresponds to September 1st, 2019.

Renew US Visa in India - Dropbox Requirement 2021
Renew US Visa in India – Dropbox Requirement 2021

Dropbox Eligibility Requirements

The criteria for the US visa interview waiver or dropbox option have not changed with the introduction of appointment booking. All documents required have not changed. You are still required to submit all the required documents as before.  

In general, to apply for dropbox, your visa has to be valid or expired within the last 12 months. But, due to COVID-19, the US Dept of State has increased the 12 months from expiry to 48 months from expiry. Also, some may also be eligible for dropbox stamping, even if it is past 48 months if they meet certain criteria until the end of 2022.

You can read more at US Visa Dropbox Changed to 48 Months – FAQs and US Visa Interview waived for certain H1B, L1, and other Visa holders until the end of 2022

Process for General Dropbox appointment Booking India

The standard process to book an in-person US Visa interview appointment is to go to CGI Federal’s website to register for an account and then schedule a general US visa interview appointment. The process is no different for booking Dropbox Appointments as well. You need to follow the same process as in-person appointment booking. Below are the steps

  • Step 1 – Register Account: You need to register an account at CGI Federal – US Travel Docs India
  • Step 2 – Complete Questionnaire Wizard: The CGI Federal appointment booking system will give you a step-by-step wizard asking a set of questions. Based on the answers you provide, your dropbox eligibility is determined.
  • Step 3 – Confirmation for Dropbox Appointment: If you are eligible based on the answers you provide, the system will automatically give you a confirmation saying you qualify for an interview waiver or dropbox. Below is a screenshot of how it looks.
  • Step 4 – Book Appointment: After the confirmation screen, you will be prompted to put in the MRV fee payment receipt details and then prompt to book the appointment date to drop off documents.
Congratulations you qualify for the interview waiver - confirmation message - option to choose emergency interview
Interview waiver confirmation message 2023- option to choose emergency interview

Note: In the past, there was a restriction on where you can submit documents for dropbox visa stamping. As of now, in 2023, that restriction is not there anymore. Irrespective of the US Consulate you select, now you can submit your documents at any location. There is a small fee that you may need to pay if you are submitting at non-Consulate locations. You can read more at Drop off documents at any Location in India Below is the difference on how it used to look.

Next steps to proceed for interview waiver application - Details Screenshot
Next steps to proceed for interview waiver application – Details Screenshot

If you are looking for H1B Visa specific dropbox process, you can check out Step by Step Guide for H1B Visa Dropbox Appointment Booking – India

Do you need Biometrics (OFC) Appointment for Dropbox?

In general, there is no requirement for giving Biometrics at Offsite Facilitation Center(OFC) or Visa Application Center(VAC), when you book a US Visa stamping appointment using the Dropbox or Interview waiver option. But, when you try to book the appointment, the online system shows “Schedule OFC Appointment” as in the below screenshot, which can be confusing as the same message is shown for a Biometrics appointment as well.

The text “Schedule OFC appointment” on the appointment booking screen can be confusing, but they have a reason. Technically, ‘OFC’ Stands for ‘Offsite Facilitation Center’ and the Visa appointment system is asking you to book an appointment to drop off your US Visa documents at an Offsite Facilitation Center(OFC). So, do not be confused with the text with OFC on the top.

Also, do not be confused if you see ‘VAC’ instead of ‘IW’ in the dropdown on the same screen.

In the past, before Nov 28, 2021, the last 3 letters in the dropdown used to say ‘IW’, which meant ‘Interview Waiver’ and it was easy to identify the dropbox appointment. This changed to VAC starting from Nov 28th, 2021. Do not be confused. It still means dropbox appointment booking, if you were given the dropbox confirmation screen. Read complete details at US Visa Appointment Dropbox Booking shows VAC instead of IW

Schedule OFC Appointment Screen for Interview Waiver or Dropbox
Schedule OFC Appointment Screen for Interview Waiver or Dropbox

US Visa types Eligible for Dropbox Appointment – H4, H1B, Others

The appointment requirement for US Visa Dropbox applications applies to all of the US visa types that are currently eligible for interview waiver or dropbox. Below are some of the most common visa types that are relevant for our readers.

  • H1B, L1 Visa: If you are an H1B or L1 visa holder applying for visa renewal, then it applies to you.
  • H4 Visa: If you are an H4 Visa holder waiting for approval with Biometrics and traveling out for stamping, then it applies to you.
  • F1 Visa: F1 visa holders going for visa renewal, who are studying in the same school for which the visa was issued in the past
  • B1/B2 Visa: It applies to B1/B2 visa renewals done using the Dropbox option.
  • In addition to the above, there are many other visa types that are eligible for interview waiver or dropbox as well. Check the USTravelDocs website for the same.

Below are some of the Dropbox Visa Stamping Experiences articles and links

Common FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions(FAQs) in the context of dropbox appointments.

Can I schedule a dropbox appointment before going to India, when in the US?

Yes, you can schedule the appointment from the US or anywhere in the world, before you arrive in India. You do not have to be physically in India to book the dropbox appointment.

How many days will I get the Visa Stamping decision with New Dropbox Changes?

You will very likely get a decision on your visa stamping within 7 to 10 business days from the day you dropped off your documents.

Can someone else submit my visa application documents at the dropbox location?

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, that all the documents as per the checklist are in there.  Also, submitting parties may need to provide their identity documents as well.

What if I miss the US Visa dropbox Appointment, can I reschedule?

Yes, you can reschedule the appointment. They will mark your receipt as unused after 24 hours and then you can re-schedule to the new date and print a new confirmation letter for the drop off of the documents.

What do I select for Drop off Appointment? Can I select the Date and Time Slot?

You select the location of drop-off, date, and time for the appointment. You need to go to the Consulate/VAC location at the respective date and time. The confirmation looks like in below screenshot. US Visa Dropbox Confirmation with Date and Time

Can I schedule a visa dropbox appointment for me and my wife at the same time?

Yes, both of you can technically select the same date and drop off documents together. The system will show the date and time slots accordingly.

Can I submit documents in a different location than on my Dropbox appointment letter?

In the past, you could only submit your visa stamping documents at the specified dropbox location. But, starting from April 4th, 2022, you can submit your documents at any of the US Consulates or VAC locations across India. It will be free of charge for Consulate locations and there is a fee of Rs 650 INR, if you are submitting in other locations. Check US Visa Dropbox: Can drop off documents at any VAC location

Can I send my documents from the US for dropbox using International Courier?

No, the applicant needs to be physically present in their home country(India) to submit the visa stamping documents. Only appointment scheduling can be done, when you are in the US.

Where can we drop off documents for US Visa stamping with the new process?

It is suggested to select a dropbox location to drop off documents at the below centers based on where you plan to give the visa interview. If you were to be called for an interview, you will be called to 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

The above suggestion is a recommendation, but it is totally up to you to pick the consulate and drop off location. There are no restrictions as such.

Can I change the visa interview location that I was given after dropbox submission?

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.  

After dropbox submission, I was called for an in-person interview, Can I skip it?

No, you must appear for the interview. You cannot skip if you were asked to attend the visa interview.

Is it really mandatory to schedule an appointment for Dropbox with the new process ?

Yes, it is mandatory. You will need to select the appointment date, and location to drop off your documents. It is not optional anymore.

What if I am missing documents during Submission? My options?

You will be allowed to get the missing documents and submit them on the same day. If you cannot submit as per the checklist, then you cannot submit on that day, you will need to re-schedule your dropbox appointment.

Can I see a Sample US Visa Dropbox Appointment Letter?

You can check it out at Sample US Visa Dropbox Appointment letter

You may also check the US Visa Dropbox Stamping Experiences page for the most recent user experiences. Also, some from the past are at H1B Dropbox Experiences in India and H4 Dropbox Experience in 2019  to get an idea of how they were processed until Aug 30th, 2019. Below is the document that was released by US Consulates when they introduced Dropbox Stamping with Appointments.

What has been your experience with the dropbox appointments so far ? Your thoughts ?

References: USTravelDocs.com – Visa Waiver Official Page  

   

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727 Comments

  1. Hello, I have questions about my J1 visa stamping dropbox appointment:
    1. I am visiting my parents in Delhi in July but i could not get any drop box appointment at Delhi VAC. Since the portal only show dates for Chennai VAC, I have scheduled the appointment at Chennai VAC and pickup at Delhi itself.
    In this case, can i submit my documents at Delhi VAC only on the same scheduled date and timings instead of flying to Chennai ? Or I need to go to Chennai for submitting my documents and passport for J1 Visa dropbox appointment.
    2. If I can or cannot submit my documents at Delhi itself, how long will it take in total in both the cases to get my passport back in Delhi with visa stamped.?
    Thank you very much.

    Reply
  2. Hi I had problem in my ds-160 so I had to go back and correct it. I was not aware about the same day submission. Now I do not see any rescheduling appointment option on my application. Is there any way I can book another appointment. It already more than 24 hrs and my system do not show anything .

    Reply
    • Jassi,
      Did you miss the appointment? If so, you cannot book for 90 days I think. Please call the customer service to double check and do post it here, how it goes for community benefit.

      Reply
  3. Hi
    I am trying to book H1 Dropbox appointments for 2-3 months advance, but whenever I am login it’s always showing available dates exactly 3weeks in advance date only. Is there any process change? Can we not book dropbox appointments more than 3 weeks??

    Reply
    • Ajay,
      There is nothing as such, just the availability I guess. Not sure, if they have any system level changes, they have not announced anything.

      Reply
  4. HI,

    We booked drop box appointment for my husband (H1b, primary ) and daughter and myself (H4) together in one profile, but due to some work emergency my husband can’t travel. So, can now me and my daughter go ahead with same appointment .

    Reply
    • Swati,
      Call the customer service and ask them to split your profiles, that way, your spouse’s details will be put on a new profile and you can go for stamping with your new profiles.

      Reply
  5. I received my H1B Approval Notice but I am still waiting to receive the approval notice for my H4 from USCIS. I have a Dropbox appointment scheduled for both of us in January 2024. Do I need to have H4 Approval Notice as well for H4 visa stamping? Or Is it optional and H1B approval Notice is enough for H1B as well as H4 Visa stamping for dropbox?

    Reply
    • Nitish,
      It is optional as you only need the H1B Approval notice for Visa Stamping. Your spouse can use your H1B approval notice copy as well.

      Reply
  6. Hello, I have below two questions for H1B stamping dropbox appointment:
    1. I selected Mumbai VAC in my application and passport pickup from Mumbai itself. Since the portal does not show any dates for Mumbai, I am planning to schedule appointment at Chennai and submit my docs at Mumbai itself. In this case, where should I collect my passport from? Do I need to change from pickup to deliver option?

    2. I have already submitted my DS-160 and at appointment scheduling stage. I am planning to visit Canada and return to US within 30 days (this is allowed with valid I-797). This will change my I-94 and the current DS-160 submitted will not have this record. Should i worry about this or it should be fine?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Neel,
      1. It is given at the place you selected for pickup. You can double check during the submission of doucments.
      2. It should generally be fine as long as nothing changes in DS-160.

      Reply
  7. hi, i made an appointment for us dropbox , but for some reason i failed to make the appointment, and now am trying to reschedule the appointment, but do i have to pay the fee again, . and one more thing, when i try to claim my payment receipt by using receipt number , it’s showinglike NO RECORDS

    Reply
  8. I am trying to book a visa slot for H1b drop off in dec 3rd week, i submitted my ds160 and paid the visa after filling ds160 code details in the new website , after successful payment able to see the schedule appointment option. I realized I may have forgot to mention few details in ds160 and i would like edit it out, looks like i cant and probably have to create a new one but I was wondering if i have to pay again incase i start a new application filling in with new ds160 code. what are my options? can i create a new ds160 and printout separately ,leave out the current application as is and send it with all the other documents as a new corrected one. instead of messing up with my existing application..

    Reply
    • Meg,
      No, you do not have to pay fee again, if you create a new DS-160. You may have to call the customer service and get them to update the DS-160 details. In general, filling new DS-160 will not mandate you to pay fee again.

      Reply
  9. Hi,
    I have booked drop box appointment and date is Jan 4, 2024. But now today came to know that somewhere on US embassy website that Interview waiver is available till Dec 31,2023.
    So my question is if i goto for dropbox on jan 4 will they will refuse to take my documents for dropbox? or they may consider my drop box request as based on questionaries in us visa shceduling i have applied for dropbox or they my ask me to appear for inperson interview and they will share the appointment and location details on their own.
    Help will be really appreaciated.

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
      • Hey do you have any updates from their side. I am planning to schedule my interview on Jan 8th. Let me know if you have any further informations

        Reply
    • Hi Rahul,
      Can you share the URL where you came across the info that Interview waiver is available only till 31-Dec-2023? I know it’s a bit tricky and will come to know more details after 2-Jan-2024. If there’s no public update available for a current rule/exception, it’s quite possible that US Consulate will honor appointments based on what has been scheduled in the Visa scheduling tool. In the past, visas expired in less than 12 months of duration were eligible for interview waiver. During pandemic, this was extended to 48 months. In the worst case scenario, they will fall back to original rule i.e., interview waiver if visa expired in less then 12 months.

      Keep us posted with your feedback on what happens on your appointment day. This will help our community. Hope for the best and wish you good luck!!.

      Thanks

      Reply
  10. Me, my spouse and Son visa will expire this Dec,23, I am planning to visit India in May/June next year, 2024. Will my Son be still eligible for dropbox and I can take the dropbox appointments altogether? earlier there was a rule if either of the parent’s visas is not valid(NOT EXPIRED) then Son can not apply for dropbox and he has to appear in person interview. Does anyone have experience/view on this? thanks.

    Reply
  11. Urgent help.

    I have drop box appointment confirmation. In the document list it was mentioned as

    □ □ Photocopy of Principal applicant’s current visa (Applicable only for H4 and L2)
    □ □ Photocopy of each parent’s valid U.S. visa page (applicable for child below 14years)

    we have expired visa. Can i submit expired visa in 2019?

    Reply
  12. I am trying bto choose a drop box appointment – Apparently everything is sold out till 2025. For interview waiver application of my dependent. Is there no way to choose a drop box appointment in India for any time in 2024?

    Reply
  13. I have my F1 visa to be stamped and i am currently in US. It says i need to dropbox but what if the dropbox is taking time as i have to be in US as i am studying on H4 visa.I cannot wait for 20days if they take.Also ,i want to take interview option but it says emergency.If i opt that and what if they call me in fee days as i need to book flights at higher rate.What should i donin this case? Can i first book dropbox and then see whenni am getting appointment and if its taking time i schedule interview with same fees?

    Reply
  14. Hi, can anyone please help

    We planned to use the drop box option on 16th this month( Oct) at the Chennai Visa Application Center( VAC).
    However, we accidentally provided incorrect dependent visa class. It should be H4 and we provided it as H1B.(primary applicant is H1B)
    Should we still go to Chennai VAC as planned or should we fill another application form?
    What are my options?

    Reply
  15. I got OFC Interview Waiver and they are asking me to submit my documents to Mumbai VAC and very next day I have my green card interview. I am so confused & weird what if they did not returned my passport on the same day since its drop off. I need my passport for next day interview.

    Reply
  16. Hi, I have filled out the DS-160 for the Delhi consulate, but I will be in Mumbai earlier than my Delhi Dropbox appointment date. Do I need to change the consulate location in my DS-160 in order to drop off the documents in Mumbai? OR do I need to fill out a new DS-160 for the Mumbai location and then drop it off at Mumbai VAC?

    Reply
  17. Me and my husband applied for renewal of US visa Dropbox. I got the schedule appointment on OFC , my husband still could not get the schedule appointment date on OFC. Can I go for add on for my husband Dropbox appointment?

    Reply
  18. I do not get the calendar to show up for dropbox appointment dates for B1/B2 visitor visa. It just says “loading…..” I have tried several days now. Any one experienced this?

    Reply
  19. I’m sure that I have an interview waiver application, but the new visa scheduling portal’s application management system says OFC Post (application) as the VAC I selected. Does this mean that you have to drop off the documents at the VAC itself?

    Reply
  20. Thanks for the information. Our mother qualifies for Interview Waiver for tourist visa, However during scheduling appointment for drop off location, the only location available were OFC : New Delhi ( Closest to us) not chandigarh. We are based in Chandigarh and its convenient for her to drop off documents in chandigarh.
    Based on your article, she can still drop off her documents at chandigarh location for the same appointment time and date even though OFC location says New Delhi. Is that right?

    Reply
    • Yes exactly thats what the confusion i had. you have to drop in Chandigarh the same time which you have selected for Delhi and i read they charge 850/- for that.

      Reply
      • Same thing is happening with my tourist visa application . I’m qualified for Interview waiver in my application but the OFC scheduling location is showing for New Delhi VAC not Chandigarh . However Chandigarh is closest to my location . I’ve not taken any appointment as of now . Please guide me if I can go to Chandigarh for my documents dropbox appointment.

        Reply
  21. How do I get appointment for drop box for USA b1/b2 visa renewal in bangalore. I received the confirmation that I am eligible for interview waiver

    Reply
  22. Hi,
    My husband has L1B visa and I have L2 visa valid until 2026. My daughter was born in India after visa was issued. Is my daughter eligible for drop off or do we have to take her for interview location?

    Reply
  23. I appeared for my drop box appointment in cochin and was told to make a correction in my DS-160 form ( change Calicut to Kozhikode) – Those who are not aware , pls mention the new name for city of birth else you will face same issue.

    Question I have is, What is the process followed for making this correction and how soon can I get my next appointment. Concerned as my return to US is in two weeks.

    Reply
    • Paru,
      Thanks for sharing! Getting appointment is tricky and hard. You can write to US consulate or raise an expedite requesting sharing your concern. The process is typically to get a New DS-160 and apply on the same day..Not sure, why you were not able to submit on the same day?

      Reply
  24. Hi,

    I have scheduled for an Dropbox appointment 6 months ago for Visa Stamping for myself (H1B) and my wife (H4). I was eligible for Dropbox when scheduling the appointment but recently i switched job and my H1 transfer with new employer is approved. Can i still use the existing Dropbox appointment or do i have to go for visa interview? If i have to go for visa interview, how can i change the Dropbox appointment to Visa interview?

    Reply
    • Hi I was checking your message I am also in same category can we able to change the Dropbox appointment to visa interview I were able to change appointment if yes can your share me a procedure

      Reply

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