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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 get US visa stamping in your passport. Since Sep 2019, US Consulates in India introduced appointments for US Visa stampings using Interview Waiver option, popularly called as Dropbox. In this article, we will look at US Visa dropbox or Interview Waiver process in India, what it means to anyone going for US Visa stamping and FAQs on the same.

US Visa Stamping with Renewal, aka Dropbox – Appointments

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. Since Sep 1st, 2019, 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.

Official Guidance – USTravelDocs Website

As per the official guidance from USTravelDocs.com India website for renew visa, they clearly says that “starting September 1st, eligible applicants MUST schedule an appointment in order to drop off their passports…”  

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

Dropbox Eligibility Requirements

The criteria for US visa interview waiver or dropbox option has not changed with the introduction of appointment booking. All the The documents required has not changed, you are still required to submit all the required documents.  

In general, to apply for dropbox, your visa has to be valid or expired within the last 12 months. But, due to COVID-19, US Dept of State has increased the 12 months from expiry to 24 months from expiry. It is valid until March 31st, 2021. You can read more at US Visa Dropbox Changed to 24 Months – FAQs

Process for General Dropbox appointment Booking India

In general, you need to go to CGI Federal’s website to register for an account and schedule general US visa interview appointment. It is no different for booking Dropbox Appointment as well. You need to follow the same process. 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 interview waiver or dropbox. below is a screenshot on 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 you to book the appointment date to drop off documents.
Schedule Dropbox Appointment Confirmation after New Change on USTravelDocs website
US Visa Dropbox Appointment Confirmation Screen

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

Schedule OFC Appointment for Dropbox ? Required ?

In general, there is no requirement for giving Biometrics at OFC or VAC, when you book 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“.

The text of “Schedule OFC appointment” at 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.

Now, one way to identify, if you are booking a Dropbox or Interview Waiver Appointment vs. Biometrics appointment is by checking what you see at the end of the Consulate or Embassy name in the dropdown next to “Select interview location“. If you see IW, which means Interview Waiver at the end of the Consulate name like “Kolkata IW” as in below screenshot, then you are booking a Dropbox Appointment.

Schedule OFC Appointment - Dropbox Stamping IW
Schedule OFC Appointment – Dropbox Stamping IW

But, if you see VAC at the end of the consulate name, then you are booking a biometrics appointment. VAC Stands for Visa Application Center and when you see that you are booking an appointment for giving Biometrics at the VAC office before your in-person visa interview. See below screenshot for your reference.

Schedule OFC Appointment at VAC
Schedule OFC Appointment at VAC

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 the some of the most common visa types that are relevant for our readers.

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

Below are some of the Dropbox Visa Stamping Experiences.

Common FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions(FAQs) like when can I book appointment, can someone else drop documents, can I do it from US, where all can I go, etc.

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

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.

How many days will I get Visa 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 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, all the documents as per checklist are in there.  Also, submitting parties may need to provide their identity documents as well

What if I miss US Visa dropbox Appointment, can I re-schedule ?

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.

What do I select for Drop off Appointment ? Date, Time Slot ?

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. Drop off Date and Time for Dropbox Appointment

Can I schedule 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. 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.

Can I submit documents in a different location than on my Drop off letter ?

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.

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

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.

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

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

Can I change the visa interview location that I was given after drop box 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 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 new process ?

Yes, it is mandatory. You will need to select the appointment date, 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 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.

Can I see Sample Dropbox Appointment Letter ?

You can check out at Sample US Visa Dropbox Appointment letter

You may also 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. Below is the document that was released by US Consulates when they introduced Dropbox Stamping with Appointments.

What do you all think of the new change ? Is it going to be good ? Your thoughts ?

References : USTravelDocs.com – Visa Waiver official Page  

   

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357 Comments

  1. I was trying the dropbox appointment for last 3 months, but no luck. Is there any specific time when the Slots will be available. Any trip of tricks will be helpful.
    Also i am mostly trying at EST time zone. Anybody know if the new slots only opens during India time zone?

    Reply
  2. Hi! I have an in-person appointment scheduled on 11/02/2021 in Chennai Consulate and booked this appointment on January, 2021. When I booked the appointment, I didn’t qualify for the Interview Waiver then. But I am eligible for the Interview Waiver now as the Interview Waiver eligibility was extended to 48 months. Could someone please clarify if I can use the scheduled in-person appointment for dropbox? Or do I still need to go through the in-person interview as it was scheduled already? Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Hi, I had my Dropbox interview on July’24 and my status changed to “Document Delivery Information” on Aug’11. What will be the normal time for the visa approval through Dropbox? Will I receive my passport by any chance soon? If not please advice the necessary procedure to retrieve the passport.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Hello ,
    I submitted my H4 dependent docs at Hyderabad consulate via drop box option on July 27? Still the status is not updated it shows received date ,last update date onAug 11.Generally how much time are they taking to approve ?There is no option to expedite.The response from support-ustravel.doc executive s is please keep checking your status.Any suggestions?

    Reply
  5. Hi, Can anyone tell me the waiting period for Drop Box appointments. Any location which is accepting drop box appointments kindly share. Thank you.

    Saanvi

    Reply
  6. When can I book for US visa dropbox appointment. For last many days its showing No appointment currently scheduled.
    I have got a waiver of interview (IW). So now I just have to submit my documents at visa consolate.
    Please guide for above problem.

    Reply
    • Swapna, how do you know before booking appointment that you have received an interview waiver? I qualify for one, but don’t know where to confirm after filling ds160 and paying fees (B1/B2 visa)

      Reply
  7. Hi Kumar,
    I had my dropbox appointment in Mumbai on July 28th under USC kid category. I submitted a cover letter stating we are exempt from the ban but the employee took only kids birth certificate and passport and returned the cover letter back to me saying it’s not required as I have already submitted all required documents. Is this normal? Is it a bad idea to email a copy to the consulate directly?
    also, any idea what’s the average processing time in Mumbai for dropbox

    Thanks in advance,
    Prashantha

    Reply
    • I finally got my visa
      here is my experience

      **H1+H4 Dropbox experience (Mumbai consulate – USC kid category – First stamping after change of employer)**

      July 27th – Travelled alone to Mumbai and stayed at Trident conveniently located to US embassy/VFS location (walkable/Trident provides free pickup drop service if required).

      If you carry laptop or any other luggage you can just drop it off at the front desk and collect it later once your appointment is over (even after checkout)

      July 28th – Dropbox appointment at 1:30 PM. Reached early at 10:30 AM and allowed in 10:40 AM.

      List of documents I carried inside are as follows

      1. Appointment confirmation page

      2. DS160 confirmation page for H1 and H4 (This one was filled for Chennai location and I DID NOT fill a new one for Mumbai)

      3. H1 and H4 applicants photos as per specification

      4. All old an new passports (H1 and H4)

      5. Primary and dependents latest I797

      6. Employment verification letter provided by my employer

      7. USC kids birth certificate and passport copies

      8. Cover letter explaining we are exempt from the ban

      VFS employee returned dependent I797 and the cover letter (#8 above – she said no need to provide any cover letter as kids pp and bc more than enough)

      July 29th – CEAC “No Status”

      July 30th to August 4th- Application received and passports still with embassy

      August 5th – H1 and H4 status changed to Refused

      August 5th – H1 status changed to Administrative Processing in the afternoon and H4 still Refused

      August 6th – H1 Changed to Issued and H4 still refused.

      August 7th – Both passports status Picked up from the embassy and preparing for delivery (something along those lines)

      August 9th – Collected both passports and ONLY H1 was stamped and no visa issued for H4. They attached a 221g document asking H4 to submit husbands whereabouts (H1B visa copy OR kids USC proof which I already submitted)

      August 9th – Travelled to Bangalore overnight and submitted all requested documents at VFS Bangalore location

      August 10th – H4 status changed to Administrative Processing

      August 11th – Today morning H4 status changed to Issued 🙂 It’s very quick response from Mumbai consulate after 221g (resolved in just 2 days)

      Waiting for the passport now, flying back to US on August 18th via Doha. Happy to answer any question

      Reply
      • Hello Prashantha,

        Congratulations on your visa stampings. Can you please help with the below queries?
        1. Is there a way to get USC kid category? Did not see any such option while filling the DS-160 or the appointment.
        2. Could not get hold of appointment yet, what time did you book yours. Any suggestions on the time of the day to check for an appointment?

        Reply
      • Hi Prashantha,
        Can you explain what is ‘USC kid’ category and how did you book visa appointment under that category?

        Reply
        • USC kid category = You are exempt from the ban if you have US citizen kids under the age of 18. You don’t have to request NIE for stamping or to travel to the United States from India

          Reply
      • Hello Prashatha.
        I am on Hi, extended visa here in USA , .need to go to India but need stamping , I am in healthcare sector.
        How does the process of NIE work ?? Would appreciate your feedback .
        Thanks so much

        Reply
        • Hi,
          I am not sure exactly how NIE works. I am exempt from the ban so did not submit any NIE. But it looks like your employer need to provide one.

          Thanks,
          Prashantha

          Reply
          • Hi Prashantha, how did you book your Dropbox appointment? I have been checking for more than a week now but always see the message ‘no appointments available’ . Is there any particular time that I should check?

    • Hi Prashantha,
      Thank you for sharing you experience. I am on H1 and eligible for dropbox when i tried to schedule an appointment. Do i need to take NIE approval with me?
      But looking at you post if we book under USC category we don’t need NIE.. But where and how do we book under USC kid category i did not find this option while scheduling an appointment.

      Thanks
      Swapna

      Reply
      • Hi Swapna, there is no special category as USC kid category while booking the appointment. It’s just that you don’t need to submit a separate NIE Letter during your dropbox appointment if you’re a parent of USC kid.

        Thanks,
        Prashantha

        Reply
      • Hi Swapna, were you able to book the appointment? I have been checking for more than a week now but always see the message ‘no appointments available’ .

        Reply
  8. Hi my current visa stamping expires on September 15th, 2021. I’m planning to travel back to US before that date by applying to NIE. Then I found a visa dropbox appointment for Aug 11th and so can apply for new visa stamping along with NIE.

    My question is can I apply to NIE on my existing visa (with my previous employer) as I have some time before my dropbox appointment and then also apply for another NIE during my dropbox appointment to get my new visa stamped (with my current employer).

    Can we apply for two NIEs? I’m thinking NIE is tied to visa number so if I get a new visa stamped, I have to apply for new NIE. Please clarify

    Reply
    • Shan,
      Yes, you can. First try to do it using existing visa, then you can try the next one. You can try to send them as two separate requests.

      Reply
  9. Hello Sir,

    My H1b extn case status moved to “Case Was Reopened For Reconsideration” on today 28th Jul,. but it got approved on 23rd Jul. What does that means?
    Should I wait for scheduling appointment? I did not get my approved notice yet.

    Reply
  10. I contacted the us travel docs support and they responded saying the interview waiver for B1/B2 visa renewal is currently suspended. You will start seeing Interview Waiver(IW) appointment dates at consulates when it resumes. There is currently no ETA on that. You can schedule dates if you are planning to give an interview to apply for the first time.

    Reply
    • I filled out the application and already paid the fees for B2 renewal, but its showing only VAC appointment eligibility right now, but i am eligible for IW. Hope i don’t have to redo the registration and it will automatically let me book IW appointments later when they open the drop box for B2. Is that what they told you.?

      Reply
  11. I am trying to book an appointment at Mumbai(India)consulate for Interview Waiver(IW).Its basically a dropbox appointment to submit documents for B2 visa renewal.
    I have been looking for dates for the past couple of months and it only shows me Mumbai VAC dates when I am eligible for dropbox (Mumbai IW) and dont need to go for Interview.My previous B2 visa dropbox appointment got cancelled bcoz of covid surge in India.
    This looks like a bug in the system. Anyone encountered this when scheduling B2 visa appointment from India ?

    Reply
  12. I am not able to get any appointment )There are currently no appointments available.) for H4 drop box. Is there any specific time when should i try so that i can get the time slots for booking.

    Reply
  13. I am going to submit the docs in drop box location. But I saw one message “Photocopy of each parent’s valid U.S. visa page (applicable for child below 14 years”. What does it mean? Can I submit My H1B, wife H4 and kids H4 under 14 all together or not? I am little bit confused in this… I dont have stamped visa as of now but going to submit docs in dropoff location, can i submit for under 14 or not with my application?

    Reply
  14. Hi Kumar / everyone – I just got my renewal i797 and I’m dropbox eligible (have been for my last 2 times renewal too and it’s been an easy process). I’m currently in the US.

    If I travel to India and to get my stamp, do I need an NIE? It’s been over 2 years since i’ve seen my family and I’m trying to figure out if it’s even worth going at this point. Esp, if I need an NIE for even getting the dropbox appointment

    Reply
    • Following..
      Similar question… can one apply for NIE and Dropbox visa application at the same time? If so then when to submit the justification letter for NIE? … via email or when submitting all other Dropbox documents?

      Thanks
      M

      Reply
  15. Has anyone been able to schedule a drop box (OFC – IW) date recently? I have been trying for the past week for an F1 renewal. Any word on approximate wait times or when they will release more dates?

    Reply
    • Hi, can you please post here when you get an appointment or any guidance on how long it is taking to get an appointment. Also do you know if one is eligible for dropbox for 12 months or 24 months from visa expiry?

      Reply
  16. I submitted my documents at hyderabad consulate on 23-Jun-2021.I still havent got any updates/response.
    Passport Status :
    Your passport is still with the US Embassy/Consulate

    What is the usual processing time for dropbox at Hyderabad consulate?

    Thanks
    Swathi

    Reply
      • Yeah, I saw an article in which they say only one month of appointments will be seen for appointments to be scheduled. I’m planning to travel to India in Oct / Nov this year. Will the appt schedule for that be showing up only in Aug / Sept?
        Anyone, please advise.

        Reply

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