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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. Since 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 on the same.

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 is applicable for all dropbox option/ 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:

  • In the past (before Sep 2019), for US Visa renewals, you had an 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 CGI Federal website.
  • In the past(before September 2019), no appointment was required with Visa Application Center(VAC) to drop off documents. But now, you must schedule an appointment beforehand to drop off your documents for dropbox stamping.
  • In the past, the average processing time for an interview waiver or dropbox was an average of 3 weeks and there was no SLA.  Now, 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…”  

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 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. You can read more at US Visa Dropbox Changed to 48 Months – FAQs

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 you to book the appointment date to drop off documents.
US Visa Interview Waiver Appointment Confirmation 2022 - Without Restrictions on Locations
US Visa Interview Waiver Appointment Confirmation 2022 – Without Restrictions on Locations

Note: In the past, there was a restriction on where you can submit documents for dropbox visa stamping, now 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.

Comparison of Location of Submission - Before and After
Comparison of Location of Submission – Before and After

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 confusing 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 traveled 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 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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499 Comments

  1. Hello Team,
    I am H1 Holder. We are trying to get appointment for 4 (1H1 +3 H4). My VISA expired in 2019. My Spouse and I qualify for interview waiver. However both of our Kid (7 Years and 6months) does not qualify as they are below 14 years and Parents VISA already expired. Kids need to go for In person Interview (Biometric and Stamping) with parents . Can we all opt for In person interview instead of Dropbox ? As anyway we need to go for In person interview for kids so I was wondering can we all go for in-person interview ?

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    I have scheduled drop box appointment in Delhi for F1 Visa because it was the one available.. But can I drop off documents in Bengaluru?

    Reply
  3. Hi,

    Am I eligible for Dropbox could someone please assist me with this. I have a H4 visa previously stamped in India in 2016. Applied for change of status in USA from H4 to F1 approved and working on valid Stem OPT. I haven’t visited India from 2016. I’m not sure I’m eligible for Dropbox or not

    Reply
  4. I scheduled my dropbox with a different DS 160 number. Can I change my profile now with the correct DS 160 number and use the same appointment or do I have to schedule a new appointment?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  5. I am a J-1 visa holder, post-doctoral RA. I need to renew my visa for this year ie., need a stamping. I have done the required formalities through CGI-website for booking an appointment, but I was never given a IW/ dropbox option. I just got stuck in “book an interview appointment slot” after OFC slot showing no appointment slot is available. This has been the case for last 3 months. How to get over this situation? Kindly suggest me.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Krishnendu,
      Slots are limited and you need to keep looking, there is no other way. I wish there was another option.

      Reply
  6. Hi,

    Me and My spouse got 2 different dropbox slots at the same time, date & consulate. As the I am H1B holder and I don’t have valid visa will it affect my spouse(H4) application?

    We were trying for H4 since couple of months but only got now as the spouse is stuck in India and we could get only slots in Sept.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Aparna,
      Well, usually, it is best to do the H1B holder first, unless the H1B holder is in the US at the time of submission. It is hard to say, see, if you can reschedule H4 by 10 days to avoid confusion.

      Reply
  7. Hi,

    My husband is on H4 and he is in India. I am H1 holder and I am in USA along with my 6 month old baby. Is my husband eligible for EA?
    It been very hard for me handle my child alone.

    Reply
  8. Hi! My parents came to the USA to meet 6 month old daughter in Jan 2022. Dad had a stroke and we found he has stage 4 tumor. I had to leave my family in the USA and bring my dad back to India for surgery n chemo. I am on h4 and want to go back to my daughter. I am unable to get any drop box slot in India. Is there any other way out. May be I try getting stamping for h4 from a different country? Is it possible?

    Reply
    • Pree,
      Really sorry to hear about your difficult situation. Stay strong.
      Well, the only option I can think of is to email to consulate and see what can be done. You may try other countries, if they accept.

      Reply
    • You can book any available date in future. Sometimes they open dates in 2023 for this purpose. After that you get option to request for emergency appointment. Give the reason and submit a request and most likely they should approve it. Good luck.

      Reply
      • Hi Sam, I did the same, but I don’t see “emergency” option in the portal. I am looking for dropbox appointment.

        Reply
  9. Does anybody knows after ceac shows issued my cgi status shown blank for passport status whom to contact please anybody let me know

    Reply
  10. Hi,

    I have submitted my passport for visa stamping through through Dropbox at Bangalore on Apr 26, 2022 (for VAC at Chennai). It’s been more than 10 business days since I have submitted. So, I reached out to their call center as well as emailed support-india@ustraveldocs.com. I keep receiving standard message as “you need to wait!”.
    When I checked for the status using ceac.status.gov, the status is still “Application Received”. However, last updated changed on last Monday to May 9th and today to May 16th .
    I am not sure how to decode this wait. Is/Was any one on this situation? Requesting your inputs or suggestions on this regard.

    Thanks.

    Reply
      • In the OFC scheduling drop down I dont see Bangalore VAC as the option to schedule drop off… do you know how I can schedule for drop off at Bangalore. This is for my parents who are 80+ and during the application process, got the interview waiver

        Reply
        • tarini,
          You will not see Bangalore, it will only show up for the US Consulates. If you choose the relevant consulate that corresponds to Bangalore, that will work.

          Reply
  11. Hi Kumar,
    I am in India and have an approved I797 from my employer. My original petition was transferred and I had last visited US in 2014 on H1B petition which was transferred by current employer. While booking Visa appointment i wanted to book a family appointment so the CGI portal queries i answered based on the majority of the applicants. In my case the answers would have made us eligible for drop box but 2 of my dependents are not eligible for Dropbox. Now i have booked a visa interview appointment in July answering the question as No which is true for the majority of the applicants but not for me. Would this have any negative impact on my visa interview process.

    Reply
    • Maniesh,
      You should not put any false information on the application. It is technically fraud and you should never do it. Do not amend answers for convenience of your appointments, it may be classified as falsifying information.

      Reply
    • Do not worry about it. The USCIS process itself says we have to book an appointment for future date and then only we will get option to submit the request for emergency appointment. So to book that they are expecting us to enter data that enables us to book appointment. Don’t believe in the above falsifying comment please. You can clearly show the intend and as you said the data entered is correct for majority of the family. USCIS would not find fault in family trying to go for appointment together. Good luck.

      Reply
    • You can book any available date in future. Sometimes they open dates in 2023 for this purpose. After that you get option to request for emergency appointment. Give the reason and submit a request and most likely they should approve it. Good luck.

      Reply
    • Do not worry a lot about it. Embassy itself says if someone has to book emergency appointment they have to book interview appointment first for future dates (they open dates in 2023 for this purpose). So we have to provide answers accordingly to get to interview appointment even if we are eligible for drop box. I am just giving this as an example. Do not worry a lot seeing the above comment that you are falsifying information. Like you said the information is correct for majority of the family and Embassy will not find fault for family trying to go for appointment together. They look at intend and you can show clear intend and reason. Do not worry about it and good luck for your interview.

      Reply
  12. I had applied for a US VISA (B1/B2) back in 2010, and on my VISA, I had an annotation as “Fingerprints Waived”. This same VISA expired in the year 2015.

    I have recently applied for an F1 VISA, and while filling out the application, a question appeared whether I have or had an existing VISA, where I clicked, “YES”. The next question that appeared on the screen was whether or not the VISA received was stamped with an annotation of “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”.

    Do I, who had my VISA Annotation stamped, “Fingerprints Waived”, have to click on “YES” for the above question?

    Reply
    • KD,
      In general, it has to be the same text. If you do not see the same text, then do not have to say YES. Annotation is used for many things and what is written there has to match. if you are in doubt, email the consulate for confirmation.

      Reply
  13. Hello Kumar,

    I was on H4 visa till Jan 2022. In Jan 2022 I got H1 approval. My husband is on H1b and my kid’s H4 is dependent on my Husband’s visa. Now we all are planning to visit India for stamping. I got the visa appointment on October 9, 2022. We are yet to get an appointment for my husband and my kid. We are confused about the stamping process. Kindly assist

    Reply
    • Hello Kumar,

      I was on H4 visa till Jan 2022. In Jan 2022 I got H1 approval. My husband is on H1b and my kid’s H4 is dependent on my Husband’s visa. Now we all are planning to visit India for stamping. I got the visa appointment on October 9, 2022. We are yet to get an appointment for my husband and my kid. We are confused about the stamping process.
      Can both parents’ stamping require for Kid?

      Reply
  14. I was on H4 till January 2022. In January 2022 I got my H1b approval now I am in H1b. I am planning to visit India for stamping. So am I eligible for dropbox as I was on H4 earlier and now in H1b?

    Reply
  15. Hi Kumar,

    I have checked on Usdocs site and found that I am eligible for interview waiver so can use dropbox appointment. Any idea if we are getting appointment for June 1st Week? I have 2 dependents – Spouse and Kid (less than 14) who wont be getting waiver. Do they need to be booked for interview separately? Can my kid get visa without inteview via dropbox? I am in utter confusion.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sunil,
      Yes, they need to book an interview for your spouse. You can get your kid’s dropbox, after you both have visas approved.

      Reply
  16. Dear sir,
    I am applying for a J1 visa in the US. Previously I have a B1/B2 visa and I am qualified to get an interview waiver. But I am confused about where I have to drop my documents because in Kolkata there are two different places for interviews and biometrics. So My question is where should I have to go? Moreover

    Reply
  17. Hi, my wife and I are applying for j2 and J1 visa. I am already eligible for visa interview waiver but my wife is not. I want to give up my option for Dropbox, and give interview with my wife. I tried to book through my email account and we are getting Dropbox option instead of interview. How should I fix this and get interview for both of us together.

    Reply
  18. Hi Pratap,

    I am also in the same boat, some where i read when the kid cross 15 year old he needs to get a consular appointment for the Kid. I am also trying to find more details. Please let me know if you find any information. appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Ravikumar K

    Reply
  19. Hi , I am trying for H1 drop box slot booking from couple of days. But getting message as no appointment currently available for Hyderabad,Any one recently booked the appointment and let me know your experience. Also suggest me any idea when can we get slot

    Reply
  20. I am on H1B visa and have 3 dependents on H4 visa (spouse and 2 kids). One of my child is 15 years and his last stamping (on H4) was when he was 10 years. For visa renewal this time, while responding to questions on USTravelDocs (cgifederal) site, I was sure there was no question regarding 14th birthday, hence I was eligible for dropbox and I have booked dropbox for all four of us. Is anyone there who is in same situation and has successfully stamped for 14+ year child. ? Please advise

    Reply
    • Pratap,
      As he already had a visa, the age question did not come up at all. So, you should be fine. You can email them, if you are in doubt.

      Reply
      • Dear Kumar,
        Thanks for your quick response. I have emailed them many times and also called them few times, however they never clarified whether my child is eligible for Dropbox or not and always sent link of eligibility. I have single USTravelDocs profile in my name and have other members as dependent and hence I never got such (14th birthday) question.
        I am also member of your telegram group. However I did not came across any experience of any user in same situation. I am afraid that once I travel to India and if they did not accept my child’s documents, I have look for appointment and its almost impossible to get biometric and consular appointments now. However I will be keeping a buffer of 2 months for interview appointment (July-Aug).
        Thanks for your advice.

        Reply
        • Pratap,
          I see. One thing you can try to do is create a new profile in USTravelDocs for your kid and try the questionnaire separately. Do not pay the fee, but go through the process. Until you pay fee, nothing is committed, so that was you can validate. You can also write to US Consulate directly to clarify, they are better at clarifying this.

          Reply
        • Hi Pratap,

          I am also in the same boat, some where i read when the kid cross 15 year old he needs to get a consular appointment for the Kid. I am also trying to find more details. Please let me know if you find any information. appreciate it.

          Thanks,
          Ravikumar K

          Reply
  21. I’m on H1B currently but will be quitting soon and going to India and will get on partner’s H1B as H4 dependent. Would I be eligible for dropbox? Once I quit will my H1B be considered cancelled?

    Reply

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