How to Qualify for a US Visa Interview Waiver (Drop Box 2023)

The interview waiver process allows certain US visa applicants to bypass an in-person interview and get through visa processing much faster than the alternative of having to wait for an in-person interview. With US visitor visa interview appointment wait times at well over a year, qualifying for an interview waiver can cut your wait time significantly. 

Applying through the interview waiver process allows you to make a drop box appointment. On the day of your drop box appointment, you will drop off your documents to your preferred Consulate or Embassy and will not be required to complete an in-person interview with a consulate officer.

The US Embassy in India and the US Department of State have continued to work together to expand interview waiver eligibility in order to help speed up processing and visa appointment wait times.

US Visa Interview Waiver Eligibility

To qualify for the Interview waiver for US visa, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. Requirements to qualify for a drop box appointment are as follows: 

Renewing Any Visa in the Same Category

Applicants renewing any visa in the same category within 48 months of expiration are eligible for an interview waiver. 

Previously Issued Any Type of Visa

Your in-person interview may also be waived if you are applying for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, or academic J visas and you were previously issued any type of visa, as long as you are applying for the visa within your country of nationality or residence.

Note

This does not apply to applicants who have a previous refusal that wasn’t waived or overcome.

H-2 Visas

Extended through December 31, 2023, consular officers may waive the in-person interview for certain H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers) under certain conditions. This includes both first-time and renewing applicants.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Certain first-time F, M, and academic J, or individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may also qualify for interview waiver given that they have no apparent ineligibility and have previously traveled to the US visa ESTA, or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

“Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization” on Previous Visa

Travelers with “clearance received” or “department authorization” listed on a previous visa can now also use the interview waiver process.

H, L, C1/D, O, I, F, M, and J Visa Renewals

Certain Consulates and Embassies in India are currently (as of June 2023) accepting a limited number of drop box applications for renewals of H, L, C1/D, O, I, F, M, and J visas at their Visa Application Centers.

Note

Even if you technically qualify by one of the requirements listed above, a consular office may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. You are encouraged to check your local US Consulate or Embassy’s website for more information.

How To Book a Drop Box Appointment

To determine whether or not you are eligible for a drop box appointment, first visit the US Travel Docs website and fill out your information accordingly. If you are notified that you are eligible for interview waiver, then you will schedule an appointment for document drop-off. 

Note

Beginning on October 1, 2023, dropbox applications will only be processed at the Chennai location (except for B1/B2 visas which will continue to be processed at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. This means that appointments made after October 1, 2023 for interview waiver can only be made at the Chennai location. Documents can still be dropped off at any of the 5 VACs and 6 Document Drop-off Centers. Read more about this update here.

How Long Will It Take to Get Your Passport After Document Drop Off?

If you apply through the interview waiver process and submit your documents via drop box, you should allow up to three weeks from when your passport was accepted at the VAC (Visa Application Center) until your passport is either delivered or you are notified that it is ready for pickup.

Can Minors Qualify for Interview Waiver?

Yes, certain minor children can qualify for a US visa interview waiver. However, they must meet the following criteria: 

  • Be under the age of 14 years old, or
  • Have been fingerprinted by a consular officer when they were previously issued a visa

See If You Qualify!

The interview waiver process for obtaining a US visa provides a valuable opportunity for eligible applicants to bypass the lengthy wait times associated with in-person interviews. This process significantly reduces the wait time for visa processing, particularly for those applying for a renewal within the same visa category or for specific visa types. Check the US Travel Docs website to see if you are eligible to apply through the interview waiver process.

To view current visa appointment wait times for both in-person interview and drop box appointments, visit the travel.state.gov website.

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