H1B Dropbox: Process, Eligibility Requirements, Documents, Change of Employer
The dropbox process for H1B visa holders makes it easier to get a H1B visa stamp, which is mandatory to work in the United States. This stamp shows that the U.S. government endorses a visa holder’s stay in the country.6 min read
A recent change to the stamping process now provides some eligible applicants with the opportunity to renew their H-1B visa stamps through an H1B dropbox rather than having to attend an in-person interview. For applicants, this means a quicker and more simple acquisition process.
Not only has the process become easier, but recent statistics paint a bright future for applicants, especially those residing in India.
- H1B visa stamp wait times were long prior to the dropbox. While the processing time can vary, applicants currently wait 1 day to 6 weeks on average.
- Indian citizens are issued the most H1B visas, making up nearly 75% of visa holders.
- Indian citizens can now renew their H1B visa stamp 48 months prior to the expiry.
Let’s discuss H1B dropbox eligibility requirements and the steps involved in the H1B visa dropbox process.
What is H1B visa stamping?
H-1B visa stamping is a mandatory step for foreign professionals to legally work in the United States.
After applicants are successful in obtaining H1B visa status, they must also get a stamp on their passport. The H1B visa stamp means that the government endorses you working in the country and is a crucial step in the process that cannot be skipped over.
To get an H1B stamp, applicants must submit an application, pay the submission fee, provide supporting documents, and attend an interview.
For newcomers, this process can be stressful, which is why many enlist the help of professional lawyers who can help them get their paperwork and payments in order, as well as assist them in preparing for the interview.
H1B visa dropbox eligibility
Visa H1B dropbox eligibility requirements can vary based on age group. This list applies to applicants who have previously completed the H1B visa stamping process and are currently seeking renewal.
The following requirements apply for applicants whose H1B visa was stamped after their 14th birthday.
- The H1B visa must be stamped after January 1, 2008
- The passport cannot contain “clearance received” or department authorization”
- The passport has not been lost or stolen
- You have not been previously denied a visa (of any kind) in the past
The criteria for those over the age of 80 is less strenuous.
- Applicants a part of this age group only have to meet one eligibility requirement: they must not have been denied a US visa in the past for any reason.
The requirements for children under the age of 14 differ as well.
- Children under the age of 14 do not apply for a visa stamp. Rather, they will submit photocopies of their parent’s passports and a copy of their valid US visa.
H1B dropbox eligibility for change of employer
The misconception that foreign professionals are not eligible for the dropbox due their sponsor company name being in their passport is false.
This is incorrect because H1B dropbox eligibility change of employer requirements follow a general set of criteria that does not include working with their original sponsor company.
When filling out the visa information on the US Visa CGI Federal website, applicants will not be asked for previous employer information. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only cares about the H1B visa expiration date and the general criteria.
To avoid mistakes in the change of employer process, speak with an experienced UpCounsel H1B lawyer, who will help guide you through all the steps.
You can also read more on the H1B visa transfer process.
H1B visa dropbox eligibility in India
The US Department of State is granting dropbox visa stamping in India for some Indian citizens.
Eligible applicants will have the opportunity to get their H1B visa stamp using dropbox instead of attending an in-person interview. The option is only available until December 31, 2023. To be eligible for the dropbox, Indian citizens must be first-time applicants and meet the following criteria.
|Receive a USCIS approval notice||The employer would apply for approval with the USCIS, prior to the applicant getting a H1B visa stamp.|
|Apply in your country of residence||This means whatever country the foreign professional is living in at the time of application (i.e., the country of residence).|
|Previous visa approval||Dropbox is only available to applicants who have had a previous visa approved with the United States. It does not have to be an H1B visa. For example, B1, B2, or F1 visas would satisfy this requirement.|
|No previous denial||
Applicants who have been denied for a visa in the past for any reason are not eligible for dropbox.
The United States may deny applicants for a number of reasons, including:
|No annotations on a passport||Applicants that have notes on their passport like “clearance received” or “department authorization” are not eligible for dropbox.|
|Stolen, lost, or canceled passports||Applicants who have had their passports stolen, lost, or canceled are not eligible for dropbox.|
|Issue date||Dropbox is only eligible for applicants that had their passports issued after January 1, 2008.|
Why is dropbox eligibility being extended?
Prior to the dropbox process, applicants would have to attend an in-person interview to have their H1B visa stamped. Now, as a result of COVID-19, the United States government allows some eligible foreign professionals to waive the interview component.
Previously, eligible applicants would renew their H1B stamps within 12 months of the visa expiring. Applicants can now renew within 48 months. This change came into play because facilities were not able to work at full capacity due to restrictions.
Low staffing has also made it challenging for applicants to get appointments. The government has, as a result, made it easier for foreign professionals to renew their H1B visa stamps within 48 months of expiry. This rule will be in place until further notice.
H1B dropbox documents checklist
Here’s a H1B dropbox documents checklist for you to use to ensure you have all the important documents required.
- Confirmation letter
- Copy of Form DS-160
- Copy of Passport
- Copy of photo
- Copy of previous US visas
- All copies of I-797 Approval Notice
- Employment letter
Steps to book an H1B dropbox appointment
Let’s discuss the steps involved with booking an H1B dropbox appointment, particularly for Indian citizens.
|Step 1: Complete Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant US Visa Application||
Submit Form DS-160 online.
Make sure to write down the confirmation number after you submit the form. This number will act as an Application ID, which is used to book a dropbox stamp appointment.
|Step 2: Login to the CGI Federal Atlas Website||
Create a profile on the CGI Federal Atlas Website. You will need to select the country where you plan on getting the H1B visa stamp.
It is most common to get the stamp in your home country. Alternatively, you can go to Canada or Mexico. However, some applicants have experienced complications and these countries do reserve the right to deny you.
Visit USTravelDocs to see which US consulates or embassies you can go to to complete this process.
|Step 3: Fill in the details||
Time to schedule dropbox appointment in India.
During this stage, you’ll need to answer a number of questions related to the visa, country of residence, personal details, and dependent information (if applicable).
|Step 4: Check H1B dropbox eligibility||This step involves answering questions to check if you’re eligible for the dropbox.|
|Step 5: Select document delivery location and pay MRV fee||
You can either select pick up or choose the premium delivery option for your documents.
As part of this step, you’ll also need to pay the visa fee online or with a cash payment advice slip.
|Step 6: Book an appointment||Now you’re ready to book an appointment to drop off all the required documents.|
|Step 7: Print the H1B dropbox appointment for India confirmation letter||
Print off the confirmation page and keep this document safe. It contains personal details, appointment details, document delivery details, and DS-160 information.
It will also outline the dropbox location instructions.
H1B dropbox FAQs
What happens if your H1B dropbox stamping is not approved?
If your H1B stamp is not approved, you will not be able to enter the United States.
The denial letter from the USCIS will state if applicants can appeal this decision. However, this only occurs in rare cases. If the USCIS grants an appeal, foreign professionals must file within 30 days. When appealing, speak with an experienced and professional immigration lawyer to ensure the appeal is correct.
If there’s no opportunity to appeal, applicants can reapply by having the employer file another Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
What is the approval rate for H1B dropbox?
The approval rate for the dropbox is 95%. Rates vary each year, especially when there’s a change in administration. In the last two years, the denial rate has been very low.
How much time does dropbox take for H1B?
H1B dropbox processing times vary by facility. Most commonly, applicants can expect to hear a result within one day to six weeks.
What happens in an H1B dropbox appointment?
You’ll be required to submit all required H1B visa dropbox documents, as well as the confirmation letter at the dropbox appointment.