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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 your 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 until further notice.
  • 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 needs 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

Check complete details on the above at US Visa Stamping Dropbox Option for certain H1B Visa applicants.

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 only see a generic question asking about any US Visa, instead of H1B Visa. Do not be worried or confused, if you see this. The below screenshots highlight the changes. 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 previously 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

You can carry either color printout or a black and white printout of your appointment letter/ confirmation page. Also for all supporting documents, carry originals and copies of the same. The originals can be verified as needed by them when they take copies.

Documents Checklist for H1B Dropbox from Appointment Letter

As per the US Visa Dropbox Appointment Letter, below is the screenshot of the list of documents that you need to carry for document submission. There are two sets of documents they suggest. The first one is the list of common documents and the second is the documents that are specific to H1B visa applicants.

List of Common Documents for H1B Dropbox Applicant

List of Common Documents for H1B Dropbox Submission
List of Common Documents for H1B Dropbox Submission

List of Documents specific for H1B Visa for Dropbox applicant

H1B Dropbox Documents Checklist from Appointment Confirmation Letter
H1B Dropbox Documents Checklist from Appointment 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 in August 2022. It clearly tells that the applicant has to attend the interview. You also do not need to make any appointment. All you need to do is take your passport and go to consulate on any day before 10 AM.

221g Slip after Document Submission to Attend Interview 2022
221g Slip after Document Submission to Attend Interview 2022

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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248 Comments

  1. I’m eligible for dropbox and the OFC appointment page used to show IW until 27 Nov 2021. Since then it shows OFC instead of IW. Does anyone have this problem?

    Reply
    • Naresh,
      Look for the IW in the dropdown. If it show OFC on the top it is fine. The above article has the screenshot of the same. If it shows VAC, then reach out to the customer support.

      Reply
      • Hi Kumar,

        How do I reach out to customer support? Is it through the ‘Provide feedback’ section of the portal or is there any other email address? I don’t see IW locations in the dropdown either. Thanks for the help!

        Thanks,
        Krishna

        Reply
      • It shows VAC but when you check your appointment history on cgi website it should show IW. Double check your appointment history once you book an appointment.

        Reply
      • Hi Dipika,

        The same thing happened to me. But when I scheduled the appointment on 01/24/2022, I got an interview waiver. Please check your appointment history on CGI website.

        Reply
  2. Hi, my H1B Visa was stamped in Mumbai which expired in 2020. I qualify for Dropbox. Because of the non-availability of dropbox slots, I took the appointment in Kolakata IW. Can IW location being different from VAC cause any issue?

    Reply
  3. Can someone please clarify what documents are needed for H1B renewal with DropBox. I am getting extremely conflicting information.
    1. Somewhere on the Consulate website, I read we also need to submit – pay slips, 12 month bank statements, W2 forms, Manager details, Resume, apart from the list shared on this website. Are those needed?
    2. Do we need to submit the original I-797 approval notice or just the copy?

    Appreciate the response. Thanks!

    Bhupesh

    Reply
  4. Hi,

    I have question on DropBox eligibility Criteria, I entered US in 2015 and never went outside of USA till now, if I visit India in 2022, will I be eligible for DropBox, my H1B extension is valid till 2023.

    Reply
  5. Hi,

    Thanks for informative article, it is very useful.

    I have a question regarding Step4. Dropbox eligibility for H1b and H4, very first question Yes I have H1-B (Expired ) stamped in my passport.

    if I had added my wife’s info (H4 holder) in previous page (dependent’s info).

    can I still answer yes to this question and subsequent ones?
    or should I create new account for her and start new application?

    I am confused because my wife never had H1-B so this particular question should not apply to her.

    Please help me with this

    Thanks
    KG

    Reply
  6. Hello,

    Thank you for answering the questions mentioned above.

    I currently have H1B stamped and valid until July 2022 with my previous employer, and the transfer with a new employer is approved until 2024. (eligible for dropbox)

    I don’t see any drop-box appointments available at this point.

    I have a return ticket on Dec 23rd 2021

    1. I got my previous H1b stamping in Mumbai. Can I check for appointments in other centers?
    2. In case, If I don’t get an appointment, can I still come back to the US with my old H1B stamping, which is valid till July 2022?
    3. If I visit India next after July 2021, am I still eligible for Dropbox?

    Reply
    • I am in the same boat as well. I see that for Chennai IW , Bangalore is a valid place to drop off but i do not see any appointments available for Chennai or Bangalore.

      Reply
  7. US travel doc website doesn’t say anything about previous stamping to be in the same country as above. Earlier, they did mention that specifically. But looking at the current eligibility requirements, people with previous stamping other than from India is also eligible for drop box if they qualify all other answers.

    https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/en/renew-visa

    Reply
    • FEBIN,
      You are right, one part of the article was not updated. The screenshots were updated. Thanks for the catch. Yes, you do not need to have previous stamping from Same country. Just updated the requirements list.

      Reply
  8. Hi,
    I am eligible for dropbox – but my CGI schedule OFC appointment screen from many days says no appointments available.
    is it necessary to take an appointment for the dropbox ?

    Reply
  9. Hi,
    I had my dropbox appointment recently where I submitted all the necessary docs along with NIE letter. I got a 221g refused status and my passport was returned with a white slip asking me to apply after pp ban lifts on Nov 8. Can schedule another dropbox after Nov 8 or do I need to schedule a biometrics and visa interview?

    Reply
  10. Hi, I am eligible for dropbox. Does the city matter for appointment? Does it need to be same as the one in DS-160? It’s difficult the find an open slot, so I was wondering if we can select any city which has availability?

    Reply
    • I have heard prior to Nov-08-2021, dropbox appointments not designated under defined locations with respect to consulate are being accepted.
      Eg: If DS160 is filed for Chennai consulate. Defined dropbox locations are Chennai/Kochi/Bengaluru. But dropbox locations like Mumbai/Kolkata are being accepted. Not sure if this continues later to Nov-8-2021. If yes, not sure how long will it stay this way.

      Reply
  11. I need some clarification for this questionnaire: Did your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) expire within the last 48 months?

    My previous visa stamping happened through my previous employer and the expiry date is less than 48 months (Expiration Date 06 Aug 2020) . Since this question does not talk about current or previous employer should I say Yes or NO to the question?

    Reply
  12. Hello,
    Thank you all for always helping with answers/suggestions for our sometimes repetitive questions (this may be one of those)

    I am getting married in January and working on getting a new H4 appointment(wife) and H1b (me) renewal.

    I do qualify for Dropbox based on the questions, however, this would be my wife’s first time stamping and I believe she wouldn’t qualify (correct?)

    Is there a way we both can appear at the consulate for our visa’s together?

    Thank you for your help
    Ankit

    Reply
    • Hi Ankit,

      I’m in the exact same boat and looking for Dec dates. Can you let me know what did you decide on doing? Is it Dropbox for both of you and your wife or just yourself?

      So I am applying for h1b renewal and first time h4 for my wife. Do I Ned to make seperate appointments?

      Reply
      • There are 2 options. You can add your spouse as the principal applicant when you create an account on cgifederal website, add yourself as the add-on (additional applicant). In this way, you can ensure that both of you will be attending consulate interview together.
        Option 2 is to create separate accounts for both. You will be eligible for dropbox and spouse would have to go the the consulate interview separately. You’ d need to find dates for all of them (Dropbox for you, Biometrics and interview for spouse).

        Reply
  13. Hi
    Does the applicant have to physically be in India when the visa renewal process is happening? I plan to send my passport to my parents in India, have them submit it for visa renewal stamping, and have them send it back to me in the US. I don’t have any plans of travelling to India but do need to go to other countries and come back to the US.
    Thanks,
    D

    Reply
  14. Hi,
    I don’t see any drop-box appointments available at this point. It says no appointments available for all the locations. Has anyone been able to schedule one recently? Any info on this would be appreciated !!

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hey Anup,
      Only thing that could be done is keep checking. As frequently as you can. I was blocked multiple times for checking continuously, but was still able to find an appointment few days back.

      Reply
  15. I have a question. Please help me. I recently changed from my employer to a new employer. I was on part time H1B but now moved to full time. I had my visa stamped till August 2022 with my previous employer I797. Do I need to go for stamping now if I visit India? Appreciate your response. Thanks

    Reply
  16. Hi all
    I have couple of questions regarding H1 and H4 dropbox(change of employer).
    1. Current H1 is stamped and valid till Sept 2022 with previous employer. And the transfer with new employer is approved till 2024.
    Is new I797 enough or do we need any letter from employer(direct employer no middle consultancy) for Dropbox?

    2. Current H4 is stamped till Sept 2022.
    We have not filed H4 extension along with H1 transfer as we are traveling outside country. Can we go for H4 Dropbox based on H1 I797? If not then what documents are required for Dropbox?

    Reply
  17. Hi, I am on H-1B and my wife is on H4 visa. For the stamping process, we both are eligible for drop box separately for our respective visa renewals. I want to know that can I add her as a dependent on the visa fee portal and schedule only 1 appointment to drop of both of our documents or do my wife and I need to schedule separate appointments for drop off documents?

    Reply
  18. Hi, I am on H-1B and my wife is on H4 visa. For the stamping process, we both are eligible for drop box separately for our respective visa renewals. I want to know that can I add her as a dependent on the visa fee portal and schedule only 1 appointment to drop of both of our documents or do my wife and I need to schedule separate appointments for drop off documents?

    Reply
  19. Hi Kumar,
    We are planning to visit India end of October. And have an appointment scheduled for dropbox at Delhi(US citizen kid)

    H1B and H4 stamp on passport with employer A was valid until Nov2019 stamped in Mumbai.
    H1B and H4 extended(I797) with employer A from Nov 2019 to Nov 2022.
    Employer changed in March 2020, new I797 H1B and H4 valid from March2020-March 2023 with employer B.
    My confusion is, our previous visa stamp is not based on our most recent previous I797. Will that be a problem in our eligibility for dropbox? Does that make any difference?

    According to the appointment scheduling questionnaire, we are eligible for dropbox but I just want to make sure and your opinion/experience is greatly appreciated. TIA

    Reply
  20. Hi,

    I am trying to get a dropbox option for H1B extension stamping but I am directly getting redirected to the personal data screen. Am I doing anything wrong here?

    Reply
  21. I already have an email confirmation from Embassy with APPROVED NIE for 12 months. Do i still need to provide employer letter for H1B dropbox with reason of why i qualify for NIE or just the email is sufficient?

    Reply
  22. My wife is eligible for H4 dropbox appointment. I’m currently in US and she is in india. Does she need to have NIE approval to get H4 stamping via dropbox.

    Reply
  23. Thank you for the detailed information. This is really helpful. My H1b extension petition was filed recently I got the receipt number from the texas service center on 7/20/2021. I have not received the I-797 approval notice yet.

    1. USCIS website mentions processing time for I-129 as 1.5-4 months for Texas service center. Do you know how long it is taking now based on the experience of people who received their approval recently?

    2. Currently what is the earliest appointment date available for a dropbox appointment for H1B Renewal. Can I schedule a dropbox appointment now before I receive the I797 approval notice?

    Reply
    • Hi Abhinash and others,

      If you received approval (electronically), were you able to schedule and process a drop box application just with the receipt number and without the actual I-797? We have received approval via email but have heard that it will take many weeks to get the actual I-797. The instructions on travel.state.gov highlight the “receipt number” as shown on i-797.

      Thank you,
      Rahul

      Reply
  24. My older passport had no surname on it , so initial visa was issued as FNU Asha. Now after marriage i got my passport renewed with my surname ‘Asha Mehta’ , now i have a proper firstname and lastname. During filling ds 160 form for h1 renewal, should i mention my alias name as FNU(firstname) Asha (last name) , or any other way , as surname field is mandatory. Or should i leave it blank.

    Reply
  25. Hi Team,

    My case for H1-b and H4 (dependents)
    1.When will get earliest appointment for drop box in chennai IW as of now?
    2.Shall we go other state for Drop box appointment if we get earlier than Chennai IW? any?

    Reply
    • Hi please let me know if you get any response. I couldn’t see any dates open for IW in any of the embassy in India . It says no appointments available straight away. I have been watching this for more than a month now. Just drop me a mail if you see any dates open. My email drmuralii1781@gmail.com

      Thank you so much.

      Reply
  26. Hi,
    My h1b got approved 7/23rd and am currently in Canada with work permit (and my dependents are in visitor visa),. There is no US consulates open to process Temp work visa and I am not qualified for VWP (drop box) in Canada as I am Indian citizen. I want to go back US as soon as possible,.

    Could you help me to suggest the following,.
    1. Any Idea will I be eligible for Drop box in Canada by submitting any additional docs etc,.
    2. when will Canada resume their US consulate process.
    3.Is it good to come India for stamping as I am eligible for Drop Box (visa expired on Aug/2020 for me and dependents. )
    4.I prefer go to Chennai as it is nearest one, But am I go any other city for stamping in case Chennai closed if,.

    Thanks,.

    Reply
  27. I have submitted h1b renewal documents to Dropbox at New Delhi on July 8th. In July I checked my h1b visa status it was showing “Refused”. A few days later I received my passport and along with a letter and asking to submit “please submit PPNCOV (document to demonstrate you overcome PP restrictions)”.

    Any one have an idea what document they expect? I heard that need to request for NIE approval for H1b renewal.

    Reply
  28. Below Question is different now, the country is removed. Does it mean dropbox is eligible event if the previous visa was issued in different country.

    Before:
    Was your most recent H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) issued in India after January 1, 2008? Yes
    Now:
    Was your most recent H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) issued after January 1, 2008? Yes

    Reply
    • yes it was the same for me too. Would be great for the author to update the questionnaire. That requirement has been removed from the website too

      https://ustraveldocs.com/in/renew-visa.html

      Reply
    • Hi satheesh. what did end up happening with yYo? Did you get visa through drop box?

      So I got my initial h1b from saudi arabia and now wants to schedule visa stamping from India. Any help is appreciated.

      Reply
  29. Hi Team,
    Are currently dropbox appointments available only for certain visa categories like H1, H4 etc.. I am trying to book an appointment for Tourist visa B1 B2 but no questionnaire is coming in Step 7… Not able to schedule a dropbox appointment.

    Reply
  30. It appears that most recent visa does not need to be issued in the home country anymore.

    The questionnaire now says: “Was your most recent H1B visa issued after January 1, 2008?”

    Reply
  31. Hello I went to dropbox on June 15th and On June 21st I got refused status on my applications. I have US citizen kid and I work direct to a product based company. I am struck with my son who is US citizen kid and not sure what next steps are?
    should I contact anyone? shall I work now or stop working?

    Reply
    • Hello AK Kumar,
      Were you able to resolve your situation?
      What was the reason you got for reject?

      Thanks,
      Manish

      Reply
  32. Hi Kumar

    I had US H1 visa from a previous company. I worked over an year in US and then came back to India and didnt travel post. It got expired in 2018 3rd quarter. Post that my new company has renewed it lately. May I know if I am eligible for dropbox ? ( considering the expiring date has been relaxed to 48 months due to pandemic)

    Reply
  33. F1 Student Visa Renewal
    —————————————————————————-

    Hello!

    I am an undergraduate student. Towards the end of my second year, I took a gap year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic situation.
    Since I’ll be rejoining for Fall ’21 am trying to extend my Visa before returning. I have completed the following steps:

    1. Obtained a new I-20 from University DSO and paid the I-901 Fee on it.
    2. Paid Visa Fee after completing required forms on the “Apply for a U.S Visa” website.

    After the completion of the said form, it says that I am eligible for a Visa interview waiver and document drop-off facility.
    However, I am not able to schedule an appointment due to the unavailability of slots.

    Now the question is since I plan to travel back around August 6th and the date rapidly approaching, can I instead apply for an In-person visa interview? (I am asking this because If I answer that my Visa isn’t valid, the website allows me to schedule for an interview in mid-June/July since they’ve opened it as of today)

    If not, can you please guide me towards my next best option?

    Reply
  34. Hello Sir
    I need help with this question
    Have you ever been refused a H-1B (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) visa before?”.
    In 2018 during my first h1b visa stamping i got 221g form asking for more documents, i summitted those docs and it got approved. One more thing in my 221g form it mentioned my case was suspended until i submit those documents, there was no mention of refusal
    Now i am in India for my 2nd stamping so what should be my answer for this questions
    Yes or no . Please help

    Reply
  35. is there any waiting time for dropbox appointments in Hyderabad. im planning to travel India next week (25th may 2021).

    Reply
  36. My L1A petition was approved on 29th Apr 2021 and figured that I’m eligible for IW, but no appointments were available as per the latest news release. Given the current backlog for IW appointments, do you know an estimated date when the earliest available date will be?

    Reply
  37. Hi,

    This is the very detailed article I have ever seen. Thanks for doing this.

    I have a quick question. I came to the united states as a student and applied for H1B before my student visa expires. It did got approve and my H1B visa expires on August 2022. So, I am planning to travel to India this November 2021 to get the Stamping done. This is the first time ever I am planning to travel to India after I came to the United States. My questions are:
    1. Am I still eligible for dropbox?
    2. Do you think it will be an issue since I did not come back to India during these years?

    Reply
    • MC,
      Cheers.
      You can only get dropbox for renewals. If you never had H1B stamped, you cannot get H1b in dropbox.
      No, it does not matter.

      Reply
  38. Hi

    We are eligible for dropbox(h1b renewal) and was planning to come to India in May. But currently there are no appointment dates in chennai IW for May. Is it already filled? Also, can we make our representative drop the documents at the drop box location?

    Reply
    • Ashman,
      Currently, there are no appointments until May 15th. They have cancelled all appointments. Check https://redbus2us.com/covid-19-news-updates-us-consulates/
      Yes, your rep can drop off documents.

      Reply
  39. I left the company for which I had approved H1B- I797A. My employer revoked the approval for that I797A.I ha visa stamped for that petition. In this situation, what should I answer for question “Your H1B visa stamp in passport was not lost, stolen or cancelled”?
    i.e. when I797A approval is revoked, visa stamp in the passport for that I797A is cancelled?

    Reply
    • AT,
      Employer cannot revoke, they can only withdraw. The question is related to actual visa stamp in your passport, not the USCIS I-129 form. Even then, employer cannot revoke anything. Only USCIS can do that. No, in short, your employer did not and cannot.

      Reply
  40. Hello,

    I submitted my documents for dropbox yesterday . The VAC officer asked me for the employment verification letter which i didnt have. I was not aware of the document to be submitted nor my employee asked me to take one. I said i did not have it. They said ok. I asked them if it is a mandatory document for submission and they mentioned recently they are asking it. But they said it should be fine and took the other documents ( passport, i797 – old and new and photographs,ds 160 confirmation ). Are there any chances of 221G for this case.

    Reply
  41. Hi Kumar,
    I am eligible for Dropbox and had scheduled an appointment for me and my family (wife and 2 children). Is my family required to be at the Dropbox location when they verify documents on the appointment date?
    Thanks!
    Babu

    Reply
      • Thanks, Kumar. One more question I would like to ask. My children are turning 18yrs and 15yrs this year. Are they still eligible for Dropbox? We all had an in-person VISA interview last time in 2017.
        Thanks,
        Babu

        Reply
  42. Hi Kumar,
    I am eligible for Dropbox and had scheduled an appointment for me and my family (wife and 2 children). Is my family required to be at the Dropbox location when they verify documents on the appointment date?

    Reply
    • Hello,
      I am in the same situation, I am renewing my H1B visa along with my family, and planning to do it through Dropbox. My younger daughter was 12 years old when she got her previous H4 Visa stamping. The rest of us myself, my wife, and my elder daughter have no issues. Can we add my younger daughter together with us?

      Reply
  43. Do you know how much time it is taking for people to receive their stamped passports after following this method for visa renewal?

    Reply
  44. Myself, my wife and kids renewed the passport.
    The Visa stamping is in old passport.
    Our visa expiry date in old passport is Sep,16, 2017.
    I am currently in USA and I have plan to go to India in July 2021.
    Am I eligible for drop box based on 48 months period. I meet all other criteria.
    When is the US consulate expected to open walk in Interview.

    Reply
    • Biju,
      Yes, you should be eligible. You would probably be asked to submit old and new passports during dropbox.
      No one knows, when the consulate will open for regular operations.

      Reply
  45. We booked an appointment for H1B dropbox in India last year which got cancelled due to Covid 19. We are booking the appointment again this year and we are still eligible for dropbox with the 48 month extension policy. Do we need to create new DS 160 OR we can use the old DS 160?
    If we link new new DS 160, previously paid MRV receipt would be invalid, but if we use old DS 160, the information is not up-to-date. Can anyone recommend what should we do?

    Reply
    • Sudhir,
      Technically, there is no validity for it. But, the information in it needs to be valid. Now, if you have done last year, your photo and other things need to be updated. So, you may need to check all of that and make a call.

      Reply
  46. I got an early interview n biometric date as i selected one wrong option of clearance by mistake even though i was eligible for dropbox. What should i do now?

    Reply
  47. My dependants H4 extension is filed and still waiting for biometric. My H1 extension is approved.
    Can I go to India and get my stamping done along with my wife?
    Does she need the extension approval for her dropbox stamping ?
    Will the extension get abandoned once she leaves the country?

    Reply
    • Smruti,
      She needs only your approval notice to get stamping. No, she does not need the approval notice of her H4 extension. It may or may not get abandoned as it is not COS.

      Reply
  48. Very nice article.
    I am eligible for H1B Dropbox appointment however my spouse’s visa was issued in Canada. During my renewal process, can I add her as H4 dependent? All the questions asked by the wizard seems to be concerned only about the primary applicant.

    Reply

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