F1 Visa Renewal – Interview Waiver and Dropbox in Mumbai, India

Raghuram Sukumar F1 Visa Interview Experiences 69 Comments

student-f1-visaHere’s a F1 visa renewal through interview waiver program in India.

Interview Waiver Program in India allows visa applicants renewing their US visas that are still valid or expired within the past 48 months may submit their applications for consideration for streamlined processing, including waiver of a personal interview.

Earlier this year, USA Visa interview waiver program in India option was announced.  If you met the eligibility requirements for Interview waiver or dropbox, then you can apply for USA visa renewal without attending the visa interview.

Following post was shared by Roma who recently got F1 Visa renewed via interview waiver by submitting visa application and documents via dropbox at Team Stanley.

F1 Visa Renewal  Interview waiver in India

I have been an avid reader of this blog and it has some really good tips. I would like to share a unique experience. I renewed my F1 visa for masters successfully through the Visa Dropbox service.

Visa Interview Detail

Submitted DS 160, and since I qualified for the dropbox renewal, I decided to opt for that.

I prepared all the documents needed and took them in a folder and headed to the Stanley office/dropbox location in Mumbai

There were people waiting in a line to get the 10 fingerprints and since I was there with the dropbox confirmation letter, I was let right in.

I waited for about 5 minutes and the rep only took

  • DS160 confirmation
  • Passport
  • One photo
  • I-20

He said I would hear back from them in about a week.

Lessons Learned from your interview

I prepared all the documents as the website suggested, but to my surprise they only took the documents mentioned above, nothing else.

I was tensed since I thought this was weird as they didn’t ask for any bank documents as such.

The consulate website states that this facility is only for those who are “returning to the same school and same program”, but mine was approved even though it was a change from BS to MS ( KEEP IN MIND THAT UNIVERSITY HAS TO BE SAME).

Process

  • Documents dropped off on the 22nd of November 2013.
  • 25 th  November- Online status tracker showed “Ready” and later that afternoon “administrative processing”
  • 27 th November- status updated to ‘Issued”

In short, if you qualify for dropbox, go for it. It is a hassle-free process and in most cases gets approved. All the best.

//

That was simple dropbox experience isn’t? Check eligibility criteria and if you qualify, then opt for USA visa renewal via dropbox.

Comments

  1. what about J1. I had j1 for 2 years from 2011- 2013 april,does it apply to me as well?

  2. I agree it’s a good idea to use dropbox when you can. I agree because it’s convenient.

    If you meet the criteria, it’s pretty obvious that you will (most probably) get a visa even in person. If you look at it, visa renewal in the same category at same university (F1) or same job (H1) is rarely rejected.

        1. Yes Raghu sir,I am eligible,will do it in couple of days,though do you know if I would able to get visa stamp from canada,I’m on work permit.

  3. somebody help me plz…i scheduled my interview to be 8th of january 2014 but got my i-20 today and on it,it states dat student should arrive school not later than 6th of january 2014 so i was prompted to inform d school official who sent it to me abt d development,she told me i have been given a 4days grace after d initial date written on my i-20.pls someone tell me what do i tell d vo if am asked y i came 4 my interview later…

  4. somebody help me plz…i scheduled my interview to be 8th of january 2014 but got my i-20 today and on it,it states dat student should arrive school not later than 6th of january 2014 so i was prompted to inform d school official who sent it to me abt d development,she told me i have been given a 4days grace after d initial date written on my i-20.pls someone tell me what do i tell d vo if am asked y i came 4 my interview late…

  5. This can be a great opportunity for those who are eligible. Great post, very helpful to students on F-1 visa.

  6. @favkinson,

    If I were you I will take a printout of the email stating that you got the extension, print out of the person’s position on university website (person who sent you that email)(this is to show the officer that you got the extension from university n person authorized to do so sent you the email.

    Good luck.

  7. Hey, I am in process of doing the same. What is your field of study? I’ve heard that if your field of study is technology related, then even with this process you might get pink slip and additional administrative processing time might be required. Any feedback?

  8. Hi, I’m applying for an F1 visa for my masters. I previously hold an F1 visa for my undergrad at a different university.

    When I’m filling up the appointment form, they are asking me a bunch of questions to determine whether I am eligible for drop box/interview waiver.

    One of the questions is : Do you have a previous F-1 visa (student visa)?

    Do I answer yes or no?

    When I’m answering yes to this and a few others, it says I am eligible. However, I am sure I read that it has to be from the same university. What do i do?

    1. Author

      Is your visa stamp valid in the passport? If so, how long? What is the duration of your Masters degree?

      1. Hi,

        My visa stamp is not valid. I had applied for a visitor visa B2 after I completed my undergrad so my F1 was ”cancelled without prejudice”.
        However the expiration date on it is in 2017 only. My masters program duration is going to be 1 year.

        On the page, they are asking me the following questions to determine eligibility:

        Do you have a previous F-1 visa (student visa)?
        Were you denied any kind of U.S. visa after your most recent U.S. visa was issued?
        Is your prior F-1 visa still valid?
        Did your previous F-1 visa expire within the last 48 months?

      2. Do I have the option of choosing to schedule an interview even if I qualify for the waiver? I would much rather do that because I have to be at UT on July 1st and I’m cutting it very close. I have heard that the drop box method can sometimes be unreliable. Let me know, thanks for your reply.

        1. Author

          I think you should go for interview.

          Previous visa is cancelled is different from expired.

          Since you got B2 after F1, you are not applying for same type of visa as before.

          1. Okay, so when they ask me this question on the eligibility page what answer do I select?

            Did your previous F-1 visa expire within the last 48 months? yes or no

            Do you have a previous F-1 visa (student visa)? Yes or no

            (I know my questions are quite stupid but I have been getting different answers from different consulate reps).

          2. Author

            I would say

            Expire – Yes and Yes.

  9. Hi Raghuram,

    This post is helpful – I should’ve read up on this before simply answering questions and setting myself up for the dropbox type of application. I’ll face the consequences but can you please share your thoughts on what might happen:

    I was a Masters student between 2009 and 2011 ( Visa issued in June 2009 and expires in 2014) . I finished my studies and moved back to India to work.

    I traveled once to attend my grad walk (B1/B2 visa issued in Apr 2012) and for work after on the same B1/B2

    Please note that I don’t have “cancelled without prejudice” on my old F-1 visa (I have no idea why)

    I applied for a PhD program in the same school and have an I-20 for the same. When I was applying for the visa and going through the questionnaire, I ended up getting qualified because the customer care rep gave me the following logic: even if F-1 status ended before F-1 expiration, you have to figure out if your F-1 expired in the last 48 months based on the date in visa (and not the date of your status).

    Now that I am set up for the dropbox option, I am going to go through it – but what do you think are the possibilities?

    Thank you,

    SA

    1. Hi,

      please don’t go for the drop box option. I was in pretty much the same boat and I chose the dropbox option because the officials on the helpline told me to go ahead with it. However, when I went to the OFC place for biometrics they said that i don’t qualify. I called up the helpline and said that I want an appointment booked and they did it for me. In fact they gave me an expedited appointment (the next day) because I said that their misinformation lead to this delay. So please call and book an appointment.
      Anyway you cant book appointments till july 6th now I’m sure you are aware of the glitch in the system. Hope this helps.

      1. Hi Vritti, thank you so much for your response! Please let me know if I can contact you directly via email? I wasn’t prompted for an appointment to do biometrics and am now confused further. I wonder if this had to do with the question on getting ten printed (I was during a recent visit)…..

        1. Hey email me on [email protected] . I went through hell because everyone was so unclear about this process . I tried doing this through the chennai embassy. I think you should just call them up and say that you want an appointment regardless . My case was similar. Undergrad in the US on F-1 , went back for graduation on b-2 , during which time they put cancelled without prejudice on the f-1 (even though it expires in 2017 only ) and now I’ve got a new f-1 for masters

  10. Hi, I have a F1 stamped for fall 15. But due to some recent events, I intend to do a hybrid by studying in India for a year. So I will travel to US only by fall 16. But my university and course would be same.

    I would be getting a new I 20 with new sevis id mostly. The question I have is, can i opt for the drop box waiver program? I think the visa I have now will not be valid for a different sevis id and that I have not started school within 5 months of visa issuance.

    Please could somebody reply to this?! I am not okay with going over for that tedious interview process 😐

    1. Hi Aroon,

      The best thing for you to do would be to go to the consulate and explain your case to the VFS staff there. There isn’t much online and to a large extent this is subject to interpretation. In my case, I went to the document drop off location and insisted for an inquiry and explained my case. Staff evaluated my case and decided that I would qualify for the waiver program. I submitted my Dropbox confirmation letter, DS160 confirmation, I-20 copy, SEVIS receipt. Yet to hear back.

      Good luck!

  11. I was an F-1 student for BSc and my student visa expired in 2014 (which is within 48 months). Now I am going for my MSc (to a different school) and I have qualified for dropbox. Does that mean that I am not actually qualified for it? I am very confused as it already let me print the dropbox letter.

    Has anyone been in the same situation as me? What documents did they take?

    Any help would be great! Thanks!

    1. Binal,

      Now that you have the Dropbox confirmation page, the best thing for you to do is to go to the consulate/Stanley office and explain your case clearly to the VFS staff there. Request them to guide you. There’s not much help online but it appears to be subject to varied interpretations.

      I can understand how perplexed you might be because the questionnaire never asked you if you’re still going to the same university. Don’t worry, just go to the drop off location with your ds160, I20 original and copy, SEVIS fee receipt, drop box confirmation and request for an inquiry prior to submission. I carried supporting documents but they weren’t accepted.

      Good luck!

    2. Hi Binal,

      I too have the same doubt as you in F1 visa. Could you please explain what happened in your case?
      If possible, can you share your e-mail id?

  12. I did My Masters in CS from Texas A& M university in 2011 graduated & my F-1 visa is valid from Nov 2010 to Nov 2015

    Now i have applied for PhD in CS for University of bridgeport (Different university & diff program)

    Currently i am in INDIA

    Is i am eligible for Dropbox for Visa renewal???

    1. Author

      I don’t think so. You are going to different university right.

  13. I got a 5 years F1 visa in 2010 from school A for my Masters degree. I finished my masters degree in 2013 and moved for PHD to a different school B. My visa expired 6 months back and I need to renew it. Do i qualify for the interview waiver program. I am at school B right now pursuing my phd and need to renew the visa for the same.

      1. I am in the same position as Sandeep. It is pretty confusing. The list of eligibility criteria suggests that I am eligible for the “Interview Waiver Program Drop-Box”. However when I try to create a profile on the site where you schedule your appointment, I get asked a question that says “Are you studying at the same university to which your earlier F Visa was issued?”. If I answer “No” to that question, the website thinks I am not eligible for “Interview Waiver Program Drop-Box”.

        1. I’m in the exact same position. I chickened out and selected “No” and scheduled appointment for fear of losing early appointment slots. I wish it was clearer.

          What did you do?

      2. I lost my passport ,i am deferring my admission to next intake ,do i need to got visa interview again or iam eligible for drop box?

  14. I went to US as a Fall 2015 student, came home in a month due to family emergency. Getting back in spring. School sent me new I-20 with new Sevis though I am still within the 5 month window. I decided to contact US consulate help desk to find out if I needed a new visa. It turns out for a new Sevis you need a new visa.
    But I qualified for drop box, as same university, same course, visa still valid.
    Hope this helps someone!

        1. Author

          Could you send me a writeup of the steps you did from gettign new i-120 to list of documents for dropbox and timeline.

          1. Raghuram here is what I did: School sent me an I-20 with new Sevis ID.
            I wrote to Sevis and asked them if I could transfer me fee. They said I can’t, since I had already entered the US I paid my Sevis Filled the DS 160. Printed confirmation page.
            Went online to book my appointment,it said I qualify for drop box Paid my fee Printed my drop box confirmation letter.
            Hope this helps!

          2. Also Raghuram- the docs you need are I-20 DS 160 confirmation page I photo Drop box confirmation letter.
            You need to have originals as well as one copy of each.
            I will post again on Monday afterI turn in the docs

        2. Hi Hemant,

          I am in the exact same situation as you. Can you please tell what happened with your drop-box application?

      1. Hi hemant,
        U can opt for drop box option. However u need to wait for the consulate result for knowing whether the visa has been approved or put on hold or rejected. Also the waiting time is not defined for ex may be from 2 weeks to 2 months. Its better to schedule an appointment and get it done

        1. Hi Vivek-There was no option to schedule an interview. I had only drop box choice. Hope it works!

          1. hey hemanth im in the same situation. can you tell me if your visa was approved through drop box. how much time did it take?

          2. Hi Hemant,
            My situation is the same I came back on a leave of absence and now got a new I 20 with new SEVIS ID and submitted my documents through the drop box option. Can you please let me know what happened next?

  15. Hi my visa approved on one college on novemberf 13. but i want to differ for next intake to other college ..can i go for drop box

  16. Hi Raghu,
    I have a question reg drop box eligibility. My current visa expiry is about 13months and i am travelling to india next month.
    My current visa is stamped in Australia , am I still eligible for dropbox in india?
    Please reply.

    1. Hi Chandra

      Can you contact me on to know what you did as we have similar case here Visa issued earlier was not in India but now required to renew in India

      Thanks

      1. Hi Sandesh,

        I have the same case. Could you please tell me the details on how you got your visa renewed?

    2. Hi Chandra,

      I have the same case. Could you please tell me the details on how you got your visa renewed?

  17. Hi Raghu,

    I am a PhD student and I came to India to renew my F1 Visa expiring on Dec 5, 2016. After filling the DS-160 it showed me I was eligible for “Dropbox” option and I submitted the documents on Aug 26, 2016 at Chennai Dropbox location. The consular officer told me it will be approved within 3-4 business days. When I checked the passport status it showed “Your passport is with US Embassy/Consulate” and DS-160 status in “Administrative Processing” . Any comments on this will be appreciated.

    1. Hi Raghu,

      This is my case
      – F1 visa (valid till July 2017)
      – EAD card (valid till February 2018)
      – I am eligible for the Dropbox option in India.

      1. Is it a good idea to renew your visa in advance?
      2. Can I just send my documents to without me being physically present in India?

      Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated.

    2. Hello Gangadharan,

      How many days did the process take after you dropped off the documents?

  18. Hi Raghu,

    This is my case
    – F1 visa (valid till July 2017)
    – EAD card (valid till February 2018)
    – I am eligible for the Dropbox option in India.

    1. Is it a good idea to renew your visa in advance?
    2. Can I just send my documents to without me being physically present in India?

    Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

  19. Hi,

    I have a questions for the Interview Waiver process too ( Drop Box).

    I was issued a F1 Visa in Nov’11 for School A for my MBA program and it recently expired in Nov’16. Now I doing my MSIT from School B and was planning to visit India in March’17. I’m assuming I’ll have to get a new visa stamped with the School B details on it.
    Am I eligible for the Interview Waiver?

    1. Author

      When you fill the details in the application appointment system, you will know if you are eligible for visa waiver.

  20. Hi,
    I lost my passport, am going to apply new passport in USA.but now Am in CPT ,I have 2 months left for applying OPT. Is any problem applying OPT without VISA. And also is i am eligible for dropbox for restamping in my new passport.

    1. Hello Raghu,
      I lost my passport in USA. I got my new passport in us( from an indian embassy). I came to india for visa stamping . i have a valid visa upto 2020. but in my case i changed the university with same masters program. Can i apply for visa waiver program?

      1. Author

        When you are trying to schedule the application, you will be answering a bunch of questions. Based on the answers, the system will decide if you are eligible for dropbox. Let me know if you were eligible for dropbox.

  21. Hello!

    I do have a quick regarding valid student visa. Actually, I got F1 visa in 2014 (which will expire on June 22, 2019) for Master program and then I graduated in May 2017. Meanwhile, I applied for graduate schools and got admission to the Ph.D. program for Fall 2017 term, but due to scholarships issues, I have to extend my enrollment there. Also, due to some family issues, I had to come back India in June 2017. Now luckily I received full funding from that same school for Fall 2018 term.

    So, my question is, Do I have to apply for new student visa? If yes, then it means am not qualify for interview waiver program? Or, I just have to fill up new DS-160 form and pay the SEVIS fee?

    Am sorry, for such a long message but am really so confused. Please help me out.

    1. Author

      As far I know, you don’t have to reapply for Visa. Since Ph.D. is for 4 to 5 years and visa expires in 2019, you would end up applying for the visa before you graduate. So, it’s up to you if you want to apply now or later.

      1. Hello
        I am Raj, and I will be doing Masters (starting fall 2018) in the same school as i did Bachelors. My F1 visa for bachelors expires in June 2019 (from june 2014-2019). I am done with bachelors and am currently in the US and was planning to go to India in December 2018 to renew my F1 visa.
        I know that I will be eligible for interview waiver. I will be doing PhD in biological sciences.

        Do you recommend the dropbox method (i am worried about administrative processing; I didn’t get it for my 2014-2019 F1 visa for bachelors)?

        1. Author

          For Biological Science, I would always expect 221(g) irrespective of Dropbox or Consular Interview. If you don’t get it, then its good for you. But, plan you trip expecting 221(g).

  22. Hi,

    I’ve applied for F1 visa in 2015 dec and approved. Due to some personal problems I couldn’t go for u.s. And now I’ve applied for another university which is not same as on my visa. What are my chances of Interview waiver Program.

    1. Author

      You will know that when you try to schedule the next interview. If you require F1 coaching, check out the plans available.

Leave a Comment - Your Thoughts Counts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.