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Step by Step H1B Dropbox Process: Eligibility, Documents, Change of Employer

When you apply for a US Visa renewal and you meet certain criteria, you can get it stamped in your passport without attending an in-person visa interview. This kind of visa stamping process is called an ‘Interview Waiver’ option and is popularly called the ‘Dropbox Stamping’.  The same interview waiver option is available for H1B Visa renewal as well.

In this article, we will cover the step-by-step process for H1B visa stamping using ‘dropbox’ or the ‘interview waiver’ option. We will cover all areas like dropbox eligibility requirements, booking appointments, documents checklist, how it works with employer change or H1B Visa Transfer situations, and status changes. Also, it will include changes to dropbox requirements in recent times during the pandemic.

The first step to applying for H1B stamping using the interview waiver or dropbox option is to ensure you meet all the general required criteria for a typical interview waiver or dropbox. Let’s look at the eligibility requirements first in the context of an H1B visa.

H1B Visa Dropbox Eligibility Requirements

Below are the general eligibility criteria for getting H1B Visa stamping using dropbox or the interview waiver option. You need to meet all of the below requirements to be eligible for dropbox stamping.

  • You should have H1B Visa Stamping done before and have US Visa foil in your passport of type H1B.  Dropbox or interview waiver is only possible for H1B Visa Renewal.
  • Your H1B Visa was stamped in your passport after Jan 1, 2008
  • Your H1B visa stamp in your passport should not have annotations like “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”
  • Your H1B visa stamping in passport should be issued after your 14th birthday
  • Your H1B visa stamp in your passport was not lost, stolen, or canceled.
  • There were no US visa refusals in any other visa class, since your recent H1B visa issuance.
  • Your H1B Visa should be valid or have expired within the last 12 months.  
    • There are some exceptions to 12 months like now during the current pandemic, where the dropbox eligibility is extended to 48 months from expiry. US Dept of State has not given a deadline on when this 48-month from expiry rule will end. So, it is available now.
  • In the past, there was a requirement that the applicant’s previous H1B stamping should be from the same country. But, the same country requirement was removed in 2021 due to the pandemic situation as consulates were not fully operational. Check Question 7 below that has an updated screenshot of the question.

Also, if you are over 80 years of age and applying for an H1B Visa renewal, then you need to only meet one condition, which is your most recent US Visa application was not refused.

Dropbox Option for certain First Time H1B Visa Applicants

As US Consulates across the globe are operating in a very limited fashion globally due to the COVID pandemic, starting from Jan 1st, 2022 until December 31st, 2022, the US Department of State has given Dropbox Stamping option for certain first time H1B Visa Applicants, if they meet all the below eligibility criteria.

The applicant need to meet all the below 7 requirements to be eligible for H1B Dropbox as a first time H1B applicant:

  1. USCIS Approval Notice: You need to have an H1B Visa petition approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS). Basically, this is something that your employer would apply for with USCIS for working in the US before you go for stamping and it is mandatory for stamping.
  2. Residence Country: You need to be applying for H1B Visa Stamping in your country of Nationality or Residence. For example, if you are an Indian citizen, you can only apply in India or alternatively, if you are an Indian citizen but live in Germany due to work with a proper work visa, then you can apply in Germany as it is your place of residence.
  3. Previous Approved any US Visa: You need to have any type of US Visa issued (approved) in the past by a US Consulate or Embassy. It does not have to be an H1B Visa Stamp. For example, if you have previously issued B1/B2 or F1 Visa in your passport, then you are eligible.
  4. No US Visa Refusal: You should have never been refused a US Visa at Visa Stamping. If you had an administrative processing refusal like 221g, then it should have been overcome or waived. You should have not any potential ineligibility aspects on your application (this is not clearly defined by them on what they mean)
  5. Clearance Received or Department Authorization: Any of your previous US Visa stamps in your passport should not have annotations like “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”.
  6. US Visa lost or stolen: Your most recent US Visa in your passport was not lost, stolen, or canceled.
  7. Issued after Jan 1, 2008: Your most recent US Visa was issued after January 1st, 2008

Also, many are confused, about if they need a new H1B Visa stamp after changing employers, let’s look at the details now.

H1B Dropbox Eligibility for Change of Employer

Many H1B applicants, who have done a change of employer or transferred to a new employer assume that they are not eligible for dropbox submission. They are misguided by the fact that their previous H1B visa foil glued in their passport has their previous employer’s name and they may not be eligible for dropbox.

To give you more context, when your H1B Visa was issued by the US Consulate, the H1B Visa foil that was glued in your passport would have the H1B Sponsoring Company name and the petition number details on it under the annotation section, as you can see in below screenshot. Having the previous company name is the cause of the confusion. Many assume that they may not be eligible for H1B Visa using the dropbox option.

H1B Visa Sample with Sponsor Name
H1B Visa Sample with Sponsor Name

The reality is that the employer name on US Visa is only an annotation added for reference of the CBP officer. It has nothing to do with dropbox stamping eligibility. As long as you satisfy all the general eligibility criteria for H1B Visa Dropbox, as listed in the above section, you are eligible for H1B visa stamping using the dropbox option.  

Also, to confirm the above, when you fill out the visa details and answer the questionnaire on US Visa CGI Federal Website, you will not be asked for your previous employer information or what your visa stamp annotation says. All they ask for are questions about your visa expiration date and general criteria. That’s another confirmation that you are eligible for dropbox stamping, even if you have done a change of employer using an H1B transfer.  Also, to add, we have many users on our blog and social media channels, who have got stamping done after the H1B transfer. So, it is confirmed based on experiences as well.  

Now that you understand the general requirements for H1B stamping using dropbox, let’s look at the step-by-step process.  

Step by Step Guide to Apply for H1B Visa Dropbox Appointment

The process to apply for H1B Visa stamping using the dropbox or interview waiver option is not very different from the general visa renewal for other types of visas. It is mostly the documents you submit and your eligibility criteria that matter.

For background, you can read How to apply for a US Visa for general guidance on the US Visa stamping process. Let’s look at each of the steps now.

Step 1 – Complete Non-immigrant US Visa Application (DS-160) Form online

You need to complete Online Non-Immigrant US Visa Application and complete all the details related to your current H1B sponsor and previous employment information.  You will be asked to select a location for the visa stamping or interview when you start the DS-160 form. Select the best city that you can think of where you would go for stamping. See the below screenshot.

The city you select here does not really matter. It can be different from the city where you actually go for stamping or submitting documents.

DS-160 form on CEAC Website Screenshot
DS-160 form on CEAC Website Screenshot

DS-160 form is a very lengthy form and asks for a lot of information. It can take time to complete this form.  Also,  when you submit the DS-160 form, you will get a confirmation number. The DS-160 confirmation number is also the same as the Application ID. You will enter the DS-160 confirmation number or Application ID in the next step during the appointment booking for dropbox stamping.  

Step 2 – Create Profile on CGI Federal Website

After you complete the DS-160 form, you need to create a new user profile on CGI Federal Website and complete basic information about yourself.

One thing to note during creating a profile is that you need to select the country where you plan to get your H1B visa renewal. Alternatively, if you go to www.USTravelDocs.com website related to the country, where you plan to get stamping, they will have relevant parameters at the end of the URL that set the country and language automatically. For instance, the URLs would look like the below for India & Germany.  

Step 3 – Complete Visa Type, Personal details, H1B Petition Details, Dependents info

On CGI Federal Website, once you add your basic information, you will need to select “New Appointment / Schedule Appointment” from the menu on the left-hand side. You will be asked a set of questions in a guided wizard format, you need to complete them by selecting the relevant ones as applicable for an H1B visa. The guided wizard looks like in the below section screenshots.

1. Select Nonimmigrant Visa

First, you need to select the visa type either Nonimmigrant or Immigrant. H1B Visa is a Nonimmigrant Visa, you need select that in Step 1 and click on continue. See the below screenshot on how it looks.

CGI Federal - Step 1 - Select Nonimmigrant Visa for booking H1B Visa Dropbox
CGI Federal – Step 1 – Select Nonimmigrant Visa for booking H1B Visa Dropbox

2. Select the country and state of residence

You will get an option to select the country or state of your residence. You need to select the right country or country and state combination as per your residence and click on continue. This will be listed as Step 2 in the wizard. See the below screenshot on how it looks

Select State and Country of Residence
Select State and Country of Residence

3. Select the Language of the Visa interview, Visa Category, and Visa Class

Next, you need to select the language of the interview that you plan to do if you have to go for an interview. In general, dropbox does not require an interview, but in case, they want to interview you, you need to select that and click on continue. You would see this listed as Step 3 in the wizard as in the below screenshot.

Select Language of Interview
Select Language of Interview

Next, you will be asked to select the Visa Category, which is relevant for H1B Visa. You need to select the option “Employment-based visas” option and click on continue. It will be listed as Step 3 and looks like in the below screenshot.

Select Visa Category - Employment Based Visas for H1B
Select Visa Category – Employment-Based Visas for H1B

Next, you need to select the Visa Class, which is H1B Visa. You need to select the option that says “H-1B – Temporary worker in specialty occupation” and then click on continue at the bottom. It looks like in the below screenshot.

Select Visa Class as H1B Visa
Select Visa Class as H1B Visa

You will get a chance to review and confirm the details you have entered until now as a summary. Verify the details and click on continue. It will be listed as Step 6 and looks like in the below screenshot.

Review Visa Type and Other Details for H1B
Review Visa Type and Other Details for H1B

4. Enter Your Personal info, Passport details, contact info, mailing address, Petitioner info

After that you will need to complete personal data like passport, address info, contact info, mailing address, DS-160 info, etc. Also, under the “Petitioner” section, you need to enter the USCIS approved H1B visa petition details including the H1B Case Receipt Number on the same page. It looks like in the below screenshot.

Personal Info, Petitioner Info, DS-160, Mailing Address
Personal Info, Petitioner Info, DS-160, Mailing Address

5. Add Dependents, Child Details

Once you go past this screen, you will get a chance to add your dependents. This option to add your dependents as applicable, if you are taking your H4 Dependents (spouse and children) for visa stamping along with you. You will need to click on the option that says “Add by Name as it looks like in the below screenshot.

Add dependent for H1B interview
Add dependent for H1B interview

If you click on the Add by Name option in the above screenshot, then you will get an option to add the spouse or child-related DS-160 and all their personal details here. It looks like in the below screenshot.

Add Dependents Info - H1B Dropbox Form CGI Federal Website
Add Dependents Info – H1B Dropbox Form CGI Federal Website

Step 4 – H1B Dropbox Eligibility Check Wizard

In the next step, you will be asked a few questions related to H1B Visa Stamping status to check, if you are eligible for dropbox or not. You need to answer them correctly based on your situation.  Below are each of the questions and answers that most of the H1B Visa renewal applicants answer.

Starting from January 1st, 2022, with the new Dropbox Eligibility option for certain first-time H1B Holders, you will see a generic question asking about any US Visa, instead of H1B Visa. This new option is valid until the end of 2022 ( Dec 31st, 2022)

Question 1: “Do you have a previous U.S. visa in any visa class issued?”

Response: If you had any US Visa issued in the past, you would answer ‘Yes’. This includes H1B Visa as well. See the below screenshot on how it looks on CGI Federal website.

Do you have previous US visa issued in any class
Do you have previous US visa issued in any class issued?

In the past, you would get the question that is tailored to H1B asking about previous H1B visa as in the below screenshot and question 1, but now it does appear now with the new option of Dropbox for certain first time H1B applicants with any US Visa issued in the past. Below is what everyone used to get. for now, the below Question 1 is not relevant until the end of 2022.

Question 1: “Do you have a previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee)?”

Do you have previous H1B Visa - Dropbox Question
Do you have a previous H1B Visa – Dropbox Question

The below question 2 has also changed with the new interview waiver option for certain new H1B visa interview applicants. The question does not indicate an H1B visa in the question as well.

Question 2:Was your prior visa annotated ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’?“. 

Response: Check your previous issued US Visa annotations section. This includes H1B Visa as well. If you do not have any annotations in the visa stamp such as ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’, you would answer ‘No’. See the below screenshot. To know more on this read What is ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’ annotation?

Was your prior visa annotated clearance received or department authorization
Was your prior visa annotated clearance received or department authorization

In the past, the above question used to have the question specific to H1B as in the below screenshot and question. It is not relevant until the end of 2022.

Question 2 :Was your prior H1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) annotated ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’?“. 

Was Your prior H1B Visa annotated Clearance Received or Department Authorization
Was Your prior H1B Visa annotated Clearance Received or Department Authorization

Also, the next question has slightly been modified to fit in the new interview waiver option for certain new H1B visa applicants.

Question 3: “Was your most recent U.S. visa lost or stolen or cancelled?

Response: If you did not lose your previous US visa from the past, you would answer ‘No’. This also applies to your previous H1-B Visa. See the below screenshot.

Was your previous US visa lost stolen or cancelled
Was your previous US visa lost stolen or cancelled

In the past, it used to say “in the same class for which you are applying“. Now with the new option for interview waiver, the below question is not relevant until the end of 2022.

Question 3 : “Was your most recent visa (in the same class for which you are applying) lost or stolen or cancelled?”. 

Was your most recent visa lost or stolen - question in CGI Federal website
Was your most recent visa lost or stolen – question in CGI Federal website

The next question has also changed to reflect the new H1B dropbox option for certain new applicants.

Question 4: “Have you ever been refused a U.S. visa before?”.

Response: If you did not get any US visa stamping(including H1B Visa) refused at a consulate before, you would answer ‘No’. This question is related to the US Visa issued at a US consulate or Embassy. This is not related to USCIS petition approval or denial. See the below screenshot.

Have you ever been refused a US visa
Have you ever been refused a US visa?

Below is the previous question that had H1B in the question. The below is not applicable until the end of 2022.

Question 4: “Have you ever been refused a H-1B (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) visa before?”.

Have you ever been refused a H1B Visa before CGI Federal Visa question
Have you ever been refused a H1B Visa before CGI Federal Visa question

The below two questions do not appear now after the new interview waiver option for certain new H1B Visa applicants. The below questions are not relevant until the end of 2022.

Question : “Is your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) still valid?“. 

Response : You should answer ‘Yes’ only if your visa is still valid. In general, most of the cases, for many this would be “No” See below screenshot.

If you answered No to the above question 5, you would get the below question 6. If you answered “yes”, you will be skipped directly to next question 7 below.

Is your previous H1B Visa still valid - CGI Federal Visa appointment Booking question
Is your previous H1B Visa still valid – CGI Federal Visa appointment Booking question

Question : “Did your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) expire within the last 48 months? Note: Please be sure to select an interview waiver submission date at least 7 calendar days before your visa has been expired 48 months.”

Response : You would answer ‘Yes’ in most of the cases for dropbox eligibility unless your visa has expired before 48 months. See below screenshot.

Did your previous H1B Visa expire within the last 48 months question on CGI Federal website
Did your previous H1B Visa expire within the last 48 months question on CGI Federal website

Question 5: “Was your most recent U.S. visa issued after January 1, 2008? “. 

Response:  For this, most of them would answer ‘Yes’, unless your visa was issued before Jan 1st, 2008. This includes any of your recent visas, including the H1B Visa. See the below screenshot. Important to note is that the previous visa could have been issued in any other country, does not have to be in the same country that you are attending your dropbox appointment.

Update: In the past, the question used to say “Was your most recent H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) issued in <country name> after January 1, 2008? ” The <country name> would be the actual name of the country which you were applying for a visa from. For example, India, if you are applying from any consulate in India. But, this has changed in mid-2021. Now, there is no country restriction as such.

Was your most recent US Visa issued after January 1st 2008
Was your most recent US Visa issued after January 1st 2008

In the past, this question used to have an H1B visa in the question. Now, with the new dropbox option for certain new H1B applicants, it does not have that. The below is not relevant until the end of 2022.

Question: “Was your most recent H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) issued after January 1, 2008? “. 

Was your most recent H1B Visa issued after Jan 1, 2008
Was your most recent H1B Visa issued after Jan 1, 2008

Confirmation on H1B Dropbox Eligibility

If you have answered the wizard questions as mentioned above and you are eligible, you will get a confirmation saying that you are eligible for Interview Wavier or Dropbox.

Congratulations! You qualify for the Interview Waiver. You will need to schedule an appointment to visit the Document Drop-Off locations to submit your documents but do not need to schedule a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.…”

Depending on the country you are submitting the documents, you will see the country and consulates’ information related to the same on this confirmation. It looks like in the below screenshot. Below is the sample for India. Also, there are some other footnotes that say other services in the country like document pick up / submission info and other details. Read these carefully.

US Visa Interview Waiver Appointment Confirmation 2022 - Without Restrictions on Locations
Congratulations you qualify for the Interview waiver – H1B Visa dropbox confirmation

You need to click the “Continue” button at the bottom of the message to proceed with your application.

Step 5: Document Delivery Location, MRV Fee Payment Receipt Number

You will get an option to specify the Document Delivery Option if you would pick up or choose the premium delivery option. Depending on your choice, pick the relevant option and click on continue. It looks like in the below screenshot.

Specify Document Delivery , Pickup info
Specify Document Delivery, Pickup info

Next, you will get an option to confirm that your visa fees are non-refundable, you need to click on the confirm option as shown in the below screenshot.

Important note on Visa Fee
Important note on Visa Fee

Depending on the country, you will get the visa fee payment options. It looks like the below screenshot. If you click on each of them, it will show the details on how to make a payment. You can make a Visa fee payment using that option.

Visa Fee Payment Options India IMPS Banks Others
Visa Fee Payment Options India IMPS, Banks,Others

Below are the payment options for Dropbox Stamping in India. For Dropbox stamping in India, you can either use NEFT or IMPS option as listed on the website. If you pay the fee at a bank over the counter at CitiBank, Axis Bank, or DRUK PNB Bank, then you will enter the receipt number in the box. 

  • MRV Fee Online Payment: Depending on the country you cannot pay using your overseas accounts. You need an India Rupee to account for this. 
  • MRV Fee Pay at Bank – Cash Payment Advice Slip: You will need to print a cash payment advice slip and that need to be used at the Axis or Citi bank as it has a CGI reference number.  It takes about a day after the fee was paid in the bank for it to get activated.

After you make the payment and the receipt is activated, you need to enter the Machine Readable Visa(MRV) Fee payment receipt number. The amount shown will vary by country in local currency. It looks like in the below screenshot for India.

US Visa Appointment Fee Payment Option for Dropbox Stamping CGI Federal Website
US Visa Appointment Fee Payment Option for Dropbox Stamping CGI Federal Website

Step 6: Book Appointment for Documents Drop-Off  

Using MRV Fee Payment Receipt: After you pay the fee and the MRV fee receipt is activated, when you try to navigate to the visa tab on home, you will get a popup on the payment screens saying a receipt matches and would you like to use that. It looks like in the below screenshot. You can click on use existing receipts, then it takes you to the screen to book an appointment. If not, you can enter the receipt number in the receipt number box and click continue, then it will show the below pop-up.

Use Existing Receipts for Visa Interview appointment
Use Existing Receipts for Visa Interview appointment

Schedule OFC Appointment Screen

OFC stands for Offsite Facilitation Center in the US Visa Appointments context.

This screen is one of the most confusing parts for many. The reason is it says “Schedule OFC Appointment” and many think it is for giving your Biometrics (fingerprints, photo).  In general, Dropbox stamping does not need Biometrics. So, the appointment you book on this screen is for dropping off your H1B Dropbox Stamping Document and not Biometrics.  

Update: Before November 28th, 2021, for dropbox or interview waiver appointments, it used to show “IW” at the end of the consulate name in the dropdown, where you select the interview location. This changed to VAC for dropbox/interview waiver appointments after Nov 28th, 2021. So do not be confused. You can check complete details about this change at US Visa Dropbox / Renewal – VAC vs. IW Confusion, New Change

Even though the text says “Schedule OFC Appointment”, what they mean is the appointment for Dropbox to drop off your documents. It looks like in the below screenshot.

Dropbox Appointment Shows VAC instead of IW in Dropdown
Dropbox Appointment Shows VAC instead of IW in Dropdown

Step 7: Print H1B Dropbox Appointment Confirmation Letter  

After you book the dates, you will be navigated further to print the H1B Dropbox Appointment Confirmation Letter. It will usually be 6 pages. The first page would have your details, Appointment details, Document delivery or pickup info, fee information, and DS-160 details.  

The second page would have the details of the Dropbox Location and instructions. See the below screenshots.  The list of documents to be carried will be given on the rest of the pages by Visa type. Look for the one relevant for H and L Applicants. You can check more at Sample US Visa Dropbox Confirmation Letter India

H1B Dropbox Document Checklist

Below is the list of documents that need to be submitted for H1B Dropbox Submission during the appointment :

  • Dropbox Appointment Confirmation Letter
  • DS-160 CEAC Confirmation Page
  • Passport Photo as per US Visa Photo specifications
  • All Original Passports with a previous US Visa ( if you have one, just carry that)
  • Your previous US Visa that is valid or expired (it would be in your passport)
  • Photocopy of your I-797 Approval Notice (Current & Previous)
  • Employment Verification or Confirmation Letter (original or copy)
  • (if applicable) End Client Letter. If you work as a consultant for a client, carry the client letter.
  • (Optional) Additional I-797 approval notices, if you had any in the middle for transfers. They may or may not take them. You can request and submit to be safe.
  • You can check H1B Visa Stamping Document Checklist for full details
List of H1B Dropbox Documents Checklist from Confirmation Letter
List of H1B Dropbox Documents Checklist from Confirmation Letter

H1B Dropbox Document Submission Process

The process to submit documents is pretty straightforward as listed below.

  • You need to go to the relevant address of the documents drop-off location that is on the Dropbox Confirmation Letter.
  • You need to go only during the appointment date and allowed times to the dropbox location in the appointment confirmation letter.  This can vary by location, check the letter.
  • They will verify all the documents and then take the listed documents in the above checklist. 
  • In India, they have changed the dropbox submission process allowing any of the consulates or VAC locations to accept the dropbox submission. Check Can Drop off US Visa Dropbox Documents at any Location now for full info.
  • There is no requirement for the actual applicant to submit the documents. The documents can be submitted by a representative on the appointment date and time. The representative need to carry a photo id to submit documents. The appointment letter would have all the details related to the representative submission process.
  • Additional instructions like parking and other location-specific info would be listed on the confirmation letter.
  • Due to the pandemic, there may be additional checks in place and health checks, so be prepared.

US Visa Status on CEAC Website after Documents Submission

After you submit the documents, you can check US Visa Status Online on the CEAC website.  Below is the typical sequence for the change of various statuses.

  1. No Status’: This status does not appear for everyone, it can appear for a few. If this appears for you, do not worry, within a day or two, it would change to the one of the below status
  2. ‘Application Received’ Status: You would see the “Application Received” status on the same day or by the next day after submitting documents.
  3. ‘Administrative Processing’ or ‘Refused’ Status: You may see the status change from ‘Application Received’ to “Administrative Processing” or “Refused” status. Do not panic, if you see these statuses.  It does not necessarily mean your visa is refused or going through 221g. They are very common to appear in the middle during visa processing time. You may see these statuses for 3 to 4 days. Some users said they have seen this for a week or 10 days. So, do not panic. Read Why CEAC website shows Refused Status for US Visa?
  4. “Issued” Status: You will see the status change to “Issued” if your US visa was approved by US Consulate.
  5. After your passport is in ‘Issued’ status, you can track your passport status on CGI Federal Website. It will show the status of your passport is ready for pickup, and also once you collected your passport.  You can collect your passport or it will be delivered to your address if you have picked that option.

H1B Dropbox Stamping Not Approved Situation

If your H1B visa was not approved by the US Consulate for some reason with the dropbox option, then you will be notified that your visa was not approved. The visa status on the CEAC website will continue to show status as “Administrative Processing” or “Refused”.

When you go to collect your documents and passport, they will return everything and also issue a 221(g) Administrative Processing slip that gives instructions on the next steps. Usually, the Consulate would ask you to appear in person on any day by visiting the consulate at a certain time. This can vary due to the COVID situation and they may ask to visit after the regular operations are started for the consulate.

Below is a sample 221g issued by the Consulate for dropbox stamping that was not successful during the pandemic.

221g Slip for H1B Visa Dropbox after Documents Submission
221g Slip for H1B Visa Dropbox after Documents Submission

Below is sample 221g given at Consulate for H1B Dropbox before pandemic asking to attend the consulate for interview on any day.

221g Green Slip given for H1B Visa Dropbox
221g Green Slip given for H1B Visa Dropbox

Conclusion

Overall, the process to renew an H1B visa, using an interview waiver/ dropbox option, is very straightforward and should not have any complications. Sometimes, even if your application is all good, they may call you for a random interview, so do not panic and handle it with confidence.

   

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203 Comments

  1. My last VISA stamp was in 2016, which falls outside the 48 month expiration. Does this mean I require an in-person interview ?

    Reply
    • Ashish,
      H/L visas do not have the 48 months rule until the end of 2022, so you may be able to get dropbox. The best thing to do is to fill out the questionnaire online and then get to see it for yourself.

      Reply
  2. We have scheduled a interview for all the 4 of the family members(1 H1, and 3 H4) under a single payment receipt.
    Now only H4 person will not be able to attend the interview. Other can .
    How do I keep the 3 appointment and reschedule only one appointment.

    Reply
  3. Hello

    I recently changed my employer but still have valid visa stamp from previous employer so I am okay for reentry in the US until stamp visa expiration date. Is it correct?

    My wife was on H4 (expired in Sep 2020), then got F1 visa and studied in university for 2 semesters and now dropped out and waiting for change of status to H4 (while staying in the US). If she travels to India now, does she qualify for drobox for H4?

    Reply
  4. I know most people are eligible for dropbox however my case is different due to visa type.

    Does anyone have any recent consular interview experience from Mumbai (or other Indian location)? How is it these days with respect to how busy / covid protocols / process / return of passport etc.?

    Many thanks in advance for any/all pointers.

    Reply
  5. Hello Kumar,

    I am eligible for interview waiver but my dependents are not. Due to dropbox appointment unavailability, can i book consular appointment for myself along with my dependents.
    Is that even allowed?

    Thanks

    Reply
  6. My son too is applying for F1 drop box. We are also not aware of the list.. please let us know, if your appointment is over. And what documents are required

    Reply
    • Marco,
      In general, it is not based on location, it is based on your eligibility. Check with the consulate to be sure.

      Reply
  7. Thanks for taking the time to put this highly detailed guide together! Much appreciated.

    I will be renewing my H1B visa this year (expires in August 2022) and was wondering if getting the renewal stamping could be done in any other countries apart from India/Canada/Mexico to avoid long wait times to get an appointment

    I did have good luck with this method in the past as have successfully got my F1 to H1B visa stamp done in Vienna in 2019. Just wondering if anything has changed since then due to COVID.

    Reply
  8. In the cgi website I have added my wife and kid( 2years old) as dependent by using ‘Add By Name’ option. My wife and I am eligible for dropbox. But for the kid this will be first time. Is my kid eligible for dropbox.

    Reply
  9. Hi,
    I plan to travel to India in the latter half of 2022 for my marriage. My current H1-B visa has expired and I have an approved case for my H1B-EOS but my spouse will be an H4 applicant getting H4 stamped for the first time.
    So my question is:
    1. I will be eligible for dropbox automatically but my spouse will not be eligible as she does not have any prior US visa stamped, so can I also join her in her H4 in-person VISA interview for my new H1B stamp (or) should i have to get a dropbox appointment for myself and schedule an in- person VISA interview for my spouse?
    2. Is H1B holders passport a required document for H4 stamping?

    Reply
  10. Hi- this morning when I’m checking the OFC appointment availability – it shows no appointments available in any location. Does anyone has the same problem,

    Reply
  11. Hi,
    I have an upcoming H1B dropbox interview. I’m planning to submit my speeding ticket-related court documents as proof that the matter has been closed. Will VAC accept other supporting documents along with the required documents mentioned in the checklist?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • kumar,
      Probably not, you can try. They will call for an interview, if they need to assess. I think, if it is not DUI, should be fine.

      Reply
  12. I am trying to book a dropbox appointment and i saw dates available for OFC appointment. i went ahead and booked the slot. Later it also took me to the Consular appointment as well.
    But i am eligible for Interview Waiver and after i answered all the questions it said you are eligible for IW.
    Is the Consular appointment page mandatory?
    I’m confused.

    Reply
    • Hi Kush,
      Wish you good luck brother…
      I am not able see any appointments for any of the 5cities.
      Do you know why this is happening to me?
      (I have paid MRV fee and it is tagged to my application already)
      thanks in advance
      Babu

      Reply
      • I have the same issue now, I was unable to see the Appointment screen, so I had to pay MRV fees (30,000INR) for me and my wife, and now it says no appointments.

        I came to the VFS center in Bangalore and he simply denies to even talk! they dont even tell u how to proceed further.

        I tried calling VFS chennai and i am on the phone for more than 50 minutes in waiting and no one picked up!

        This is soo broken and I have no clue anywhere on what the next steps is.

        Reply
  13. Hi ,
    I have DS160 filled with I797 which is approved till March 2023 and I am planning to travel India in November 2022 . If I file my next extension in premium and get approval , can I simple take new I797 for stamping or do need to fill new DS160

    Reply
  14. Hi Kumar
    In CGI portal I added my H1B & two H4 dependents( spouse and child) in my profile and it showed me I am eligible for drop box appointment which I got for July 2022. No question on age was asked during the CGI eligibility check in step 7. However in us travel docs site , I read that interview waiver is applicable only if last us visa was stamped on or after 14th birthday. My child who is currently 13 will turn 14 before the Dropbox appointment date. Does that mean they will not accept my passports at the drop box location? Or do I need to cancel my current drop box appointment and schedule biometric and consular appointments? Kindly advice , CGI customer care is not at all helpful and doesn’t provide a definitive answer .

    Reply
  15. Hi
    I live in US with my husband. I am on F-2 visa currently and I want to get my own F-1 visa to join a university starting Aug 2022. I meet all the requirements for interview waiver program. Can I apply for dropbox, send my docs (passport etc to my family) to India (Hyderabad) to submit to dropbox and get my visa stamped WITHOUT BEING PHYSICALLY present in INDIA ? Later I could cross the border of canada/mexico and activate my F1 though US customs boarder. Just trying to save a trip to india since I have a 4 month child with me. Please help

    Reply
    • I think it is illegal to send passport across countries without the passport holder traveling. It is mentioned in the last page of Indian passport. Even if you take chance and send it, what if your drop box is not successful and you are asked to appear for interview? Then you cannot leave USA without your passport. Also, by some bad luck or some emergency situation arises, you have to travel to India after you have sent your passport with relatives. Please keep passport with you all the time. Don’t send passport to India with relatives.

      Reply
  16. I filled ds160 last year but was not able to travel . Now i got new visa extension letter and got the slot. Is it ok with old ds160 or I need to change somewhere visa information?

    Reply
  17. Hello,
    We recently got appointment for my spouse’s H4 dropbox. I couldn’t get an appointment for my H1B dropbox yet. I don’t recall the system asking to add my spouse as dependent while filling the appointment form. So, we have been trying separately for appointment.
    Could we both go for dropbox using my spouse’s appointment since in her DS160 I’m listed as primary applicant? Or, do I need an appointment of my own?

    Reply
      • Thankyou, Kumar. Will it work if I added my spouse as my dependent as shown in the steps of this post? To clarify: We both have our own DS-160 and have paid the fees.

        Reply
        • GK,
          Yes. As long as they qualify for the interview waiver and have fees paid for their appointment and have separate DS-160, you can.

          Reply
  18. Hello,
    I had my F1 visa stamped on my old passport which was expired. I am now in H1b and need my first stamping. Unfortunately I lost that passport. So now i have a new passport (ofcrse no visa stamp nor i have my old passport anymore).

    I selected “Was your most recent U.S. visa lost or stolen or cancelled?” yes for this option while booking appointment in CGI website , it is asking me to book in person appointment.

    Since i have a new passport can I answer no to this question “Was your most recent U.S. visa lost or stolen or cancelled?” so it will take me to dropbox ?

    Please advise.

    Reply
    • Akshay,
      You should answer accurately that you lost your visa and passport. Do not answer wrongly just to get dropbox option, it will considered fraud and you can be denied visa.

      Reply
  19. Hi, could you please make a documents checklist for F1-dropbox. I had Tourist visa before so I am qualifying for dropbox. But I don’t know what documents to submit for the dropbox appointment under F1 category. Thanks!

    Reply
    • My son too is applying for F1 drop box. We are also not aware of the list.. please let us know, if your appointment is over. And what documents are required

      Reply
  20. Hi
    I have Annotation on my Visa as ‘NIE UNDER PP ON RISK TO LABOR MARKET’. Want to check am i eligible for dropbox?

    Thank You

    Reply
  21. Hi, I am the applicant and if I meet all the interview waiver conditions but my dependent’s are applying for the first time, how does this works, coz they haven’t done their biometric at all.

    Reply
  22. If you make mistake in any step for dropbox eligibility & it doesnt pop for dropbox success , you can correct it later . Call helpdesk.
    Even after appointment booked, Cancel ur appointments if any, then fix ur answers again.

    Reply
  23. Hello Kumar

    I have a question on my H1B stamping. I have a 221G while stamping in the year 2015 and it was administrative processing and it was never cleared. Recently(2022) when i check the status of the case number it was refused.

    But i have transferred my petition to new employer and stamped successfully in 2017 and now i am in USA. My stamped visa got expired on 2019. i have 797 approved until 2025.

    Now I am planning to go to India for stamping, am I eligible for drop box? Please suggest.

    Reply
  24. Hi,

    I have filled a new DS 160 for my kid as some details needed to be updated. I am not seeing an option to update the DS 160 for dependent in CGI portal.
    Please let me know how to get the new DS 160 number updated for dependent. I was able to update for myself.

    Best regards

    Reply
  25. Hi all, my first H1b stamp and i-94 based on that is expired. We are planning to visit India during summer. As there are no dropbox appointments available, what are other options like if we can get stamped from different countries?

    Reply
  26. Hi .. i got 221g in 2014 its was administrative processing and that was never cleared. I transferred to another employer and did my stamping 2nd attempt. When I check recently status of my first visa stamping it shows refused. Now am I eligible for dropbox?

    Reply
  27. I want to travel to India and get my E3 (Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia) visa renewal stamped there. I tried to check on CGI Federal website for appointment and it doesn’t give any option for dropbox eligibility. Does that mean they don’t provide dropbox for E3 in India?

    Wondering if anyone has any experience for this?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Reply
    • Aakash,
      Very likely E3 is not processed in India. Usually, not all countries process all visa types, if you check USTravelDocs website, they will tell what is processed and what is not. You may write to consulate to get confirmation.

      Reply
  28. Hi,
    First time H1b . I see the yellow box appeared for interview waiver. Selected a date in Hyderabad VAC in the ‘Select OFC appointment’. When I clicked continue, it prompts another page saying no interview slots available. I tried today March 3, 2022.

    Reply
    • I tried for one week to get an appointment.hired agent and he got it in 3 days. I got my appointment on mar 16 for at 17 at Chennai. I reached India at 11pm mar 16 and be flying to Chennai on mar 17

      Reply
        • Ankush,
          Do NOT encourage using agents. There is a lot of fraud and also consulates have sent back people, who booked using agents as they track IPs and send back.

          Reply
  29. Hi,

    Is there a way to check/edit petitioner’s receipt number for H1B visa application(not DS 160) after booking visa appointment? I don’t see an option to edit anywhere in the portal and also I’m not able to verify what receipt number I have entered.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
  30. When trying for drop box appointment it always comes as ‘dates not available’ . How to know when the slots will be available.. anywaY to know slot availability?

    Reply
  31. Both me and my husband are on our own H1B and we have two H4 children. We are eligible for Dropbox. We have added two H1B and two H4 in same CGI profile. Does one Dropbox appointment suffice?

    Reply
      • Hi,

        Me and my wife are on H1b with different petitioners. I have booked Dropbox appointment under my profile and added my wife’s DS160 confirmation number. I have the appointment scheduled for next week, should I be concerned about this?

        @priya, were you able to book under one profile and able to get the visa stamped successfully?

        Really appreciate the response here. Thank you so much!

        Reply
      • Hi,

        I have the same question. Me and my wife both are on H1b with different petitioners. But while booking the dropbox appointment I created one profile and added my wife as family member and provided her DS160 confirmation number. Should I be concerned about this?

        Priya, were you able to use one profile and able to successfuly get your visa stamped?

        Thank you! really appreciate the response here.

        Reply
        • Hi Kaushik, Priya, : Did you end up using same appointment for two H1B petitioners?

          I did some research and there is contradictory information out there. Would appreciate if you can share your recent experience.

          Reply
  32. Hi, I recently changed my employer and have approved H1B petition. The same employer has applied for my H1B amendment due to change in my job location. Can I go ahead and book my drop box appointment with current petition or do I need to wait till my amendment gets approved? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • H1BCandidate,
      It is best to wait for the amendment to be approved and use that for stamping. This is to avoid issues for you at the port of entry or during stamping. If you have something pending, they may issue 221g and delays the process.

      Reply
      • Thanks Kumar. Can I still fill my DS160 with the current petition and get the drop box appointment and then update the DS160 after the amendment approval assuming I get the approval before the appointment date?

        Reply
        • I am in the same boat. My understanding is that once you have booked an appointment you cannot change the DS160 number. At that point you will need to fill out a new DS160 and take that for interview along with all the other documents. I believe that is risky and it is better to wait for the amendment approval. However would be grateful for guidance by Kumar.

          Reply
        • H1BCandidate & Keena,
          You cannot update old DS-160 after submission as it may not allow you to edit those details. You need to fill new DS-160 after you get new approval. Also, need to update the cgifederal website by calling them to update new petition approval receipt number.

          Reply
  33. Hi,
    Currently, I am employed with Company A and I have an approved I-797. I applied for a different Company B and I got selected (recruited). I am waiting for the VISA transfer by the Company B. I wanted to book an appointment around the end of May/2022. Without the receipt number from Company B, will I be able to book an appointment for Dropbox using the receipt number provided by Company A and then change the receipt number for the same appointment, once I receive the receipt number from Company B? Please help with an answer for this situation. Thanks.

    Reply
    • NewMemberQuestion,
      Well, this is slightly tricky. Ask them to apply in premium and then apply. The reason is, you need to fill in the details of the approval. When you fill, you would not have approval, so it is not true statement, so should avoid it.

      Reply
  34. I got dropbox appointment scheduled for May, since it is my first time stamping and if possible I want to go for an interview. Is it possible to switch?
    if I want to go with Dropbox appointment, How long is it taking for First time Dropbox appointments to complete and get the passport back to hand?

    Reply
    • Sunny,
      If you are eligible for dropbox based on new rules, you are fine. Just use the dropbox. Usually, it should take anywhere from 10 to 15 days or even less at times. You can check dropbox appointments tracker : https://visagrader.com/trackers/us-drop-box-visa-appointments

      Reply
  35. Hi ,
    My application was the old one which was submitted long back. At present the interview date shows as March 22.

    As per the new guidelines how can I change this existing application to Dropbox . As this option only comes when we do new application process. Help me . Thanks

    Reply
    • R..K,
      If you have the slot confirmed, it is best to take it and go for interview. If you really want to change it, then you would need to cancel and re-run the wizard and it will give you interview waiver option. But, slot is not confirmed and you need to go through the same hassle to get a slot.

      Reply
  36. Hi,

    There is an update on https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-waivers-of-the-interview-requirement-for-certain-nonimmigrant-visas.html
    It does not mention renewal cases or 48 months. So does it mean if a person was issued a US visa in the same category , he is eligible for interview waiver ?

    Thanks
    Mahesh

    Reply
  37. Hello .. I have drop box appointment scheduled for First time h1b. I have a quick question . i came to US on H4 . started my masters with H4 and did the COS from H4 to F1 . Never stamped F1 as i never got to travel india from past 3 years . Continued on OPT and Stem OPT Now i have h1b approved . What are all the documents to submit in this case ?

    Reply
  38. Hi, I have a dropbox appointment for march/22 for myself (h1B) and my family (2 xH4), do we all need to go CGI center on the day of the appointment or I can drop the documents on behalf of everyone.

    Reply
  39. Hi, I’m going for L1A individual drop box. My job title in Employment verification letter is pretty generic & is different from the specific title on Petition. Will this be an issue for drop box?
    I have 2 i797s one says i797C Notice Type Approval notice & is around 8 pages, the other one is i797A Notice Type Approval notice & is 2 pages long includes i94. Which of these 2 needs a copy to be submitted for dropbox?

    Would really appreciate any help on this. Thanks.

    Reply
  40. Hello,

    I followed the steps that are outlined very well here. I need to request for myself and two dependents. At he payment page I see three boxes, one for each applicant. The total fee being 3 x 190 x 78.00.

    Now should I make a NEFT fee payment of (190 x 78.00) for each of the applicant to the same Beneficiary Account Number? Will the receipt numbers be associated to the applicants randomly?

    Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  41. Hello,

    I followed the process that is outlined very well outlined here. After adding 2 dependents I at the payment screen I get to see three separate boxes for Recript Numbers, one for myself and one each for dependents. Total fee being 3X190X76.

    Now am I supposed to make three separate NEFT payments of 190$x76, for the same beneficiary account number (TIER*)? Will the three resulting receipt numbers be randomly assigned to the three applicants?

    Thank you for the help!

    Reply
  42. Hi, can someone please tell me what the availability is at the Bangalore dropbox location for late December – early January? Hope to hear from someone soon!

    Thanks fellow Indians!

    Reply
  43. Hi,

    My wife and I have booked an appointment in Feb 2022 on the same time. Both of us booked it not as a dependent of each other (initial plan was to travel separately). But now since we have the same date of dropbox (not as a dependent), can we still do the dropbox? My concern is that if we need the original I-797 (H1B) document? if so, how do we address this issue? Is it okay to submit copies of I-797?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi All, I also have same issue. I am currently on H1B and traveling to India for my VISA stamping. Last year in the US I got married. In my current Indian passport it’s still single. Before my Dropbox appointment do I need to get a new passport and submit for the dropbox or can I submit my current passport and attach my marriage certificate? Please let me know I appreciate your help.

      Reply

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