Getting a US Visa renewal using Dropbox or Interview Waiver(IW) option is one of the most widely used options to get a US Visa after the initial visa stamping. Most of the applicants qualify for the dropbox option unless they have some restrictions or their stamped US Visa has annotations like “Clearance Received”.
Since September 2021, you need to book an appointment to drop off documents as part of the US Visa renewal using the dropbox option. The dropdown in appointment booking shows VAC, instead of IW starting from November 28th, 2021. This is very confusing for many. This article is aimed at addressing the confusion.
Before Nov 28th, 2021 – Dropbox Appointment Booking had IW
When you apply for US Visa Renewal using the dropbox option, as part of the appointment booking screen to drop off documents, it used to look like in the below screenshot. It used to show the page heading as “Schedule OFC Appointment“ and the dropdown to select interview location used to say ‘IW‘ at the end. In the dropdown, IW stands for Interview Waiver that indicated that the booking was for a dropbox or visa renewal appointment.
In fact, the IW at the end was one of the easy ways for anyone to know that they were booking an interview waiver or dropbox appointment. But, this changed starting from November 28th, 2021.
US Visa Biometrics Appointment Booking Screen has VAC
When you book an in-person US Visa appointment, the first step is to book a biometrics appointment. When you are booking the biometrics appointment, on the booking screen you would see VAC at the end of the consulate name as you can see in the below screenshot.
VAC Stands for Visa Application Center. When you see VAC at the end, it is a confirmation for the user that you are booking an appointment for giving Biometrics at the VAC office before your in-person visa interview. This still continues to be the same for Biometrics appointment booking even after Nov 28th, 2021.
In the past, having VAC vs. IW at the end of the dropdown was one of the key indicators for the applicant to identify if their appointment booking was going to be biometrics or Dropbox. But, this changed after Nov 28th, 2021.
Confusion – Dropbox Appointment Booking shows VAC
Starting from Nov 28th, 2021, the US Visa Dropbox appointment booking screen started to show VAC on the appointment booking screen dropdown, instead of IW. It looks like in the below screenshot. This is the source of big confusion to many. Many are not sure if they are booking a Biometrics appointment or a Dropbox appointment. The last few letters at the “Select Interview Location” dropdown, next to the consulate name now shows VAC for both Biometrics and Dropbox appointment bookings. Many did not book slots and some are still in confusion.
Having VAC can mean Dropbox Appointment as well
Based on many users’ experiences in the past 10 days or so and also confirmation from USTravelDocs Customer Support, it is confirmed that Dropbox or Interview Waiver Appointment booking screen would also show ‘VAC‘ for the last few letters at the “Select Interview Location” dropdown, next to the consulate name. It will no longer show ‘IW’ for dropbox appointment bookings.
We do not know the specific reason for this change, but many users were able to drop off documents and even get visa stamping done after they booked the slot using the VAC in the dropdown. So, it is proven to be working and we have confirmation.
How to verify, if you booked Dropbox Appointment with VAC in dropbox ?
There are a few things you can check to make sure you are booking or have booked a dropbox appointment
Before Booking – Dropbox Eligibility Confirmation Screen
When you do the visa questionnaire on CGI federal portal (USTravelDocs website), you would get a yellow screen with confirmation that tells you are eligible for a dropbox appointment. It looks like as in the below screenshot. If you have got this, then you are booking a dropbox appointment slot.
After Booking Appointment – Verify Booking screen, Confirmation letter
After you book the appointment, you should check two things to ensure you booked a dropbox appointment and not a biometrics appointment. The first one is the appointment confirmation letter that you print after making the booking.
For Dropbox or Interview Waiver appointments, you would only see VAC details on the appointment confirmation letter first page. It will not have the details of the Consular Appointment. It looks like in the below screenshot for dropbox appointments.
But, if you look at the regular visa stamping with Biometrics and in-person visa interviews, it would have both the VAC appointment details and Consular appointment details. It looks like in the below screenshot.
The other thing you can review is the check the USTravelDocs appointment history screen. If you go to the CGI Federal website and check your appointment booking history screen, it will clearly indicate that it is an interview waiver appointment, which means renewal or dropbox.
Hope it is clear to everyone now on how to confirm and not be confused. What was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can also read How to apply for H1B Visa Dropbox Appointment Step by Step Guide