Certain non-immigrant visa categories like the H1-B or B2 visitor visas when seeking a visa extension of their current visa can waive the interview segment altogether and the long wait lines at US consulates. Instead, they can submit all the requisite documents at a “DropBox” at their local US Consulate and await an approval mailed to a convenient designated address. While this applies to repeat travelers, and certain non-immigrant visa holders, they do have to take an appointment to ‘drop’ these documents and passport off.
To be kept in mind that the approved visa only allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of-entry and request permission to enter the US. Permission to enter can only be given by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.
US Visa DropBox Process
Here’s the entire process if you are looking to utilize the Dropbox facility in India to renew your visa:
- DS -160: Fill out Form DS-160 in its entirety. If you are looking to file an extension for your spouse, please fill out a separate one. Keep in mind that you identify the location as the place your Dropbox is located. Print and save two copies of your DS-160 confirmation page.
- Online Account: In order to proceed to the next step, both applicants (including the dependent spouse, if any) should have created an online account with the US Consulate. This helps in scheduling visa interviews and inserting a local address to send the visa to, should it get approved.
- Determining Eligibility: A series of questions determine whether you are eligible for the Dropbox facility. If you answer in the affirmative for all of the following, you will be allowed to avail of the Dropbox facility and get a visa waiver:
- I have a previous U.S. visa in the same class as the visa for which I wish to apply
- My most recent visa was issued in India
- I received my visa after January 1, 2008
- My prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”.
- My most recent visa (in the same class for which I am applying) was issued on or after my 14th birthday
- I have no refusals for a visa in any class after my most recent visa issuance
- If I am applying for an H or L (individual) or R visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months.
- Eligibility Confirmation: If eligible, you will get Dropbox notification that acts as a confirmation. You should print this and keep a copy for submission later.
- Visa Application fee: It takes two days for the processing of the visa fees and includes a non-refundable, non-transferable Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee. You can submit your fees through the following –
- National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT)
- Mobile Payments – IMPS
- Cash – Over the Counter at DRUK Bank
- Cash – Over the Counter (AXIS Bank and Citibank)
- Submission Once fees are paid you should print two copies of the MRV receipt number, one for submission at the Dropbox and the other for your own records. Submit all required documents and copies of all confirmations and fees receipt numbers to the nearest US Consulate.
- Biometrics An official will stamp one of the copies of the DropBox notifications acknowledging your submission at the consulate.
Some non-immigrant visas might require biometrics. The consulate will notify you for the same if needed.
What Documents Do You Submit at the DropBox when Renewing a Non-Immigrant US Visa?
- Copy of the DS-160 Confirmation Letter
- Dropbox Confirmation Notification
- Copy of I-797, H1-B Approval, if applicable
- Passport size Photographs – 2
- Original & Valid Passport
If everything is in order, you should receive your approved visa and your passport within a couple of weeks. If unfortunately, you are dealt a 221-G slip, follow the instructions therein and supply them with any additional supporting documentation to clear any administrative processing.
Are you traveling to India and seeking an extension to your H1-B or other non-immigrant US visa?
Here are all DropBox locations in India