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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…“. 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.
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 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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633 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I paid VISA fee for drop box and the receipt is valid for 12 months. Does this imply I have to schedule drobox appointment before VISA fee expires?

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    By mistake i update my spouse passport in my visa application profile i already requsted US visa service desk to correct it but now more then 20 days no response any idea how to much time its take or any other way to book appointment .

    Reply
  3. I have previously B1/B2 visa stamped on my passport. Now I have applied for F1 visa. I answered the question that I have previous visa . I am eligible for drop box. Is it OK to have drop box for F1 visa based on previous B1/ B2 visa. please answer

    Reply
  4. Hi kumar,
    I initially had h4 visa stamping. I had a COS to H1b in US. But when infilled the questionnaire it showed dropbox eligible and i had it yesterday. Will i b called for PA ?

    Reply
    • Karthi,
      It is hard to say, most of the times, you may not be. But, in some cases, you maybe called after the dropbox depending on your case.

      Reply
  5. Hi Kumar,

    Regarding below question :
    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.

    Can the applicant send the documents thro a friend to drop at the location without physically present in india ? in case if in-person interview is needed after dropoff how this will be handled? please advice

    Reply
    • SK,
      No, you need to be in India, if you are an applicant. The applicant does not have to go to dropbox submission, you can send your friend.

      Reply
  6. Hi
    I am eligible for us visa interview waiver and I booked Dropbox location OFC appointment in Hyderabad on 1 June 2023. Now i see Dropbox location OFC appointment is available for earlier date i.e on 21 November 2022 in Mumba. Can i reschedule drop box appointment to Mumbai?

    Reply
  7. Can I you use electronic receipt (email) which has all the information present on I797A.
    The Receipt Number, start data, end date and new I94 number are present.
    The actual I797 is still being shipped. And wont arrive before my dropbox appt.

    Reply
  8. I have taken an appointment for OFC document submission under interview waiver eligibility for B1/B2 renewal at Chennai VAC. May I know if I can personally pickup my stamped (with visa) passport the same day evening or next day if the visa is approved?

    Reply
  9. Hi There,
    We have to attend in person interview(H1 and H4). Got VAC appointment at Chennai but the consular appointment at Hyderabad with 10 days gap between.

    1. Can I visit Hyderabad location for VAC instead of Chennai? I know it works if it’s Dropbox.

    2. Is it possible to reschedule only the VAC appointment to get one closer to my interview appointment.

    Please share your experiences.

    Reply
  10. My initial visa was L1B visa, this is my 5th year in USA, last year my visa changed from L1B to L1A, L1B stamping that was initially given was over now (Dec 2020) will I be eligible for drop box or should I have to go for interview & stamping.

    Reply
    • Naresh,
      Depends on the company status with blanket or not. The L1 blanket is not eligible for dropbox. Otherwise, you maybe eligible. Try to fill in the questionnaire, it will suggest.

      Reply
  11. Has anyone gone through the process of dropbox submission through someone else? I can not be physically present for submission, but I can give all the documents to a fruend/agent. What documents I need to submit? Any additional documents such as authorization letter etc?

    Reply
      • Hey Kumar,
        I’m looking for a dropbox appointment and cannot find anything for my preferred travel dates (Dec/Jan). So I decided to do an in-person interview(I see availability in all the consulates except Chennai during Dec/Jan). However I see a message, stating in-person interview is for emergency appointments only. Does this mean I cannot opt for in-person interview anymore?

        Reply
        • Kay,
          You should not use the system for in-person, if it is not for emergency. Yes, you should try to go back to dropbox, if it is really not an emergency.

          Reply
  12. Me on H1B and and my wife on H4 decided the separate the profile and try to get appointment dates separately, we both got Drop box appointment on same date and time through separate logins, is it mandatory that H4 applicants to principal applicant visa stamped along with other documents?

    Reply
    • Hemanth,
      Well, you need to submit the I797 that is valid for the spouse. If you can, it is suggested to have the spouse visa stamped and then submit the H4 to avoid any unforeseen documents requests or issues.

      Reply
  13. Hi Kumar
    For first timer H1B visa stamping in india with Dropbox facility and interview waiver? How much time it takes to get passport back actually?

    Reply
  14. I am eligible for us visa interview waiver and I booked Dropbox location in mumbai on 4th November, can i submit it in Kolkata Dropbox location,if yes then which date and time I should go to dropoff location.

    Reply
  15. Hi,
    This is an urgent question. I have my H1B Visa drop box stamping appointment next week. My company has received I-797C approval notice(Not I-797A). However I do have a copy of the i-797a from my attorney’s office. Is that sufficient to show in the appointment?

    Reply
    • Sohini,
      Usually, that should be fine as long as you have a copy of the approval notice I797A. I suggest you check with your attorney as well to be clear.

      Reply
  16. Hi,

    My parents have qualified for a drop box visa renewal. And when I have tried to book on the CGI site, at times I have been able to find available drop box slots (OFC) but then as part of the process post selection it forces me to also book a consular appointment. Two questions here:

    1) What I am experiencing above, is that the normal process?
    2) What if I book the OFC drop box for 2023 and consular visa appoint for 2025 at a diff location, to complete the second step where I usually fail. If my parents documents are appropriate when they go in for dropbox, that consular visa appointment means nothing to us since the visa would have been received by then. Is my understanding correct?

    Reply
    • Akshat,
      Well, did you get the dropbox confirmation screen in the past? If so, you should not be getting the second one.

      If the system says you need both and gives both appointments, you need to attend in-person appointment. You cannot ignore it.

      If it is a bug, then you need to work with UStravelDocs. They changed the system this week for a few things, so could be hiccups too.
      Restart the wizard and answer questions, if that helps. Do update how it goes here.

      Reply
    • Same issue here . Even It says im eligible for Dropbox, but also asks me to book Consular appointment. Please suggest how you got this fixed.

      Reply
  17. hello,
    Do we need to submit financial documents such as W2, bank statement from sponsorer ( son) for visitor visa renewal document drop off.? can somebody please answer this questions.
    Thank you, Ravi

    Reply
  18. Hi,
    my B1/B2 visa expires in April 2023, but i have got my drop box appointment for July 2023. is that ok? or do i need to get an appointment for before April 2023?

    Reply
  19. Hi, my parents have a drop box appointment next week for B1/B2 visa renewal. Can someone confirm the documents to be submitted – is there anything besides all passports, DS160 confirmation, appointment confirmation page and 1 photo ?

    Reply
  20. Parent’s B1/B2 VISA renewal Drop Box appointment list of docs

    1) Appointment Confirmation page
    2) DS-160
    3) Previous passports
    4) Photo
    5) Prior visa

    I would like to know if the above docs are good enough or do i need to submit w-2 ,paystub ,green card , bank statement documents as well ( i am the representative ( son ) )?

    Reply
    • vineel,
      Those are additional supporting documents about your status and financial ability. If you are paying, you should send the bank statements and pay stubs. If you have GC, send that too to prove your status. You can check B2 Visa Stamping Experiences for some experiences

      Reply
  21. I’m applying for renewal of B1/B2 visa and have a Dropbox appointment. I got married last year, do I need to submit my original marriage certificate even though it is not in the required documents list?

    Reply
  22. Hi, my b1/b2 visa had expired in nov 2018, making my 48 month window as nov 2022. I applied for Dropbox considering my older visa. However, after paying the fees, i am getting slots for dropping my documents are after the expiry date. In that case, can I go back and change it to in person interview? As the slot availability was not known before paying the fees, I wasn’t able to figure out that the date i would get would be after the expiry of the 48 month window. Please advise

    Reply
  23. Not able to check status of my dropbox status , can some one help .I dropped my documents for my family (h1b+ 2H4) on September 29 in Chennai VAC but my actual location was Hyderabad , so far i am not able to check the status https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx in this site if i choose location as Chennai i am seeing no status .If i choose location as Hyderabad it says no record found . can someone help me how to get the status of my. dropbox

    Reply
  24. Hi I submitted my application at Bengaluru dropbox vfs. I choose Chennai as the centre. I submitted on 13th sep till now my application status shows accepted and last update on 19th Sep. Its renewal of B1B2
    I have to travel to Thailand on nov 2 for which i need to apply for visa atleast 10 days before to be on safer side.
    Its more than 10 days after submission how long should I wait to receive the passport back.

    Reply
  25. Hello, I got my biometric appointment in Mumbai, India for November’22. However, my Consular appointment is in Hyderabad. Can I still go to Hyderabad for my Biometric? Is there any new rule on this?

    Reply
  26. I accidentally selected a wrong option while answering the questions that would have lead me to VISA WAIVER (DROPBOX). Instead, now I got VISA interview at counsulate.
    Is it possible to change it to Dropbox without cancelling my date? As already it was very tough to get the dates and I dont want to lose this opportunity.
    Please advise.

    Reply
  27. Hi,

    Currently I’m in India and got my H1B recently approved. I’m eligible for dropbox.
    Can I visit another country like Indonesia/Malaysia US Embassy to get my Visa stamped

    Thank you

    Reply

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