INTERVIEW WAIVER PROGRAM FOR VISA RENEWAL

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Have you ever known about what is Interview Waiver Program (IWP)? This is a program implemented by the U.S. Consulate to waive the Visa Interview, if certain conditions have met.

According to the U.S. Consulate in India, “This pilot program permits consular officers to waive interviews for qualified nonimmigrant applicants worldwide who are renewing their visa within 48 months of the expiration of their previously held visa, and within the same classification as the previous visa”.

This program falls under two categories:

  • Dropbox Submission – Dropbox doesn’t require finger print submission
  • Interview Waiver – Requires finger print submission when received visa before November 1st 2008

Update : NOW H1 and F1 visa renewal applicants are eligible for Interview Waiver Program.

INTERVIEW WAIVER PROGRAM CHECKLIST

Eligibility Criteria for all applicants except child below 14 years and applicant above 80 years of age:

  • I received my visa after November 1, 2008
  • I currently hold/previously held , a B-1/B-2, C-1D, J-2, L-2, or H-4 visa which I wish to renew
  • My visa is valid or recently expired (expired within 48 months of the expiration of the previously held visa if the applicant is applying for a B-1/B-2 or C-1D visa, or expired within 12 months if applying for a J-2, L-2, or H-4 visa).
  • Students returning to attend the same school and same program and Temporary workers on H1-B visas
  • Temporary workers on Individual L1-A or Individual L1-B visas
  • My previous visa was issued in India
  • My most recent visa (in the same visa class for which I am applying) was issued on or after my 14th birthday
  • I have no refusals for a visa in any category after my most recent visa issuance
  • My prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received”
  • My most recent visa (in the same visa class for which I am applying) was not lost or stolen

Eligibility Criteria for Child below 14 years:

  • Valid visa copy of the same visa category of either parents in which the child is applying

Eligibility criteria for applicants over 80 years of age:

  • Applying on or after 80th birthday

Applicants with visas that were issued before January 1, 2008 may be required to submit fingerprints at a U.S. consulate in India.

Those candidates who received their visa after November 1 2008, automatically qualify for the Visa Interview “Drop Box” Program and may not require to go to the OFC to submit the finger prints.

Note: Using the interview waiver or drop box service does not guarantee visa issuance. In some cases, you may be required to appear for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, for example, if you submit an incomplete and/or inaccurate application. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel to allow for the possibility that a visa interview will be necessary.

The above criteria has been mentioned by the U.S. Consulate in India. I would say this is definitely going to help a lot of candidates who are applying for visa renewal for specific visas qualified in this program. Did you go through this process before? We would like to hear from you how it went. Please write to us your comments, questions, feedback or experiences to admin@h1bwiki.com

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  • Pramit

    This information seems to be old and not correct. This is new eligiblity criteria where H1, L1 are also eligible for IWP if you meet all the other requirement.

    • admin

      Thanks Pramit for giving the updated information. We confirmed it with New delhi consulate and you are right. They released the newsletter about IWB expansion just today and thats why we missed it :) . We updated the article.

      • RM

        I’m an H1B holder since 6 yrs and going for stamping in Jan 2013. Whats the process for IWP….if you could please elaborate. Thanks

        • VJ

          Guys, I’m in the US, am I eligible under IWP? or should I be outside of US?

  • Sunny

    How about F1 Students ? Can they renew their visa with this option ?

  • pramit

    @05d926f4198f6a0187b61cb7446ff15b:disqus F1 should be able to renew thier visa using IWP if you meet all the other criteria.

  • Shah

    Great! I have a question though…Does this apply to those H1b workers who have already planned their trip to India and are also going for their visa renewal stamping OR this applies to those H1b workers too who are currently workign in USA with an approved H1b extension but have no plans to go to India anytime soon for stamping…I guess what I am asking is can I get my visa stamped through drop box (as I meet all the conditions) being here in US the whole time?

    • Rajesh

      Not all applications will be accepted for streamlined processing. As always, consular officers may interview any visa applicant in any category. Applicants who are renewing their visas may still need to make an appointment for biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) collection, and all applicants must submit all required fees and the DS-160 application form.

  • NMS

    Hi All,

    I am an H1B visa holder which just got renewed (have approval letrer), and hence requires stamping. I am getting married in December in India and planning to bring my wife on H4. I was plannig to do a joint interview. We filled up our DS160 forms. Then I created an account on the travel docs site for myself wiht her as a dependent. We made the fee payment jointly and were just waiting for the dates to open.

    Just this morning the site prompted me to check if I qualify for the interview waiver program. And I did since I had the same visa before with the same employer and also met the other criteria. If I reply yes to my qualifying for the program I receive a dropbox confirmation letter that only requires me to submit my document at the visa application center (no biometric or interview). It lists my wife (soon to be) as the dependent.

    Now the issue is my wife did not have a visa before. So logically she should be required to appear for the interview. But I do not see any option to schedule interview just for her.

    Anybody facing similar issue? or have any ideas suggestions? Can I still say NO for IWP and go for a joint interview ?

    • Rohit

      Hey, so the site prompted you for IWP when you filled out DS160 and submitted? At what point of time did you got the IWP message. I’m an H1B holder since 6yrs now…hv to go for stamping in Jan 2013….think I’m eligible for IWP but don’t know the process.
      Is there anyway we can get in touch via emails may be? Thanks

      • Tiwarib

        Did you go for visa stamping in India????we are planning to go this summer

    • shay

      Hi, Were you able to resolve your issue? I am in the same boat and any guidance will be helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffreyKMathews Jeffrey Mathews

    Hey, Does this apply to F1 students who have been out of status for over a year ? I tutor on-campus and have been asked this question by a student.

  • xoxomumbai

    @NMS, I am having same situation as your and collecting information. I am currently in usa and planned to come to india. My wife passport is under process and will be getting soon this week. I am eligible to waive interview but my wife has to appear for interview as she is first time on H4. Do you have list of doc that require to submit in dropbox? plz email me at xoxomumbai@yahoo.com thanks

  • RM

    Hey did you got the IWP message when you submitted the DS160? or at what point in the process you got the prompt from the site. I’m an H1B holder since 6 yrs and going for stamping in Jan 2013. I should be eligible?

  • susan

    Whats the processing time, if we dropped the application thru IWP dropbox. Any one has idea..? I need to drop the package tomorrow.

    Thanks In advance

    • amit

      Did you get you VISA ? How much time it took to get the passport back? Thanks in Advance.

  • xoxomumbai

    Susan, what are the documents that you need to drop. Could you please provide document list (xoxomumbai@yahoo.com) or share information in this forum plz.

  • Phaneendra Pavuluri

    Hi,

    I got my 1st H1-B stamp in India on DEC 2011 for 1 year, i cam back to USA and changed my employer and applied new H1-B for this year and i got approved from 2012-2015. Am i eligible for this programr or not since i changed by employer.

    • Gil

      No, you aren’t eligible

  • prasadb

    Any one know the List of documents required for the dropbox? What documents to submit and which Originals to submit? Do we submit a Original I797A or Copy of I797A? Any one had any experience for the OFC + No Interview process?

  • myusernameisinvalid

    I do not know about other countries, but Indian Nationals are not eligible for this program. Please check – http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visawaiverinfo.asp

    • prasadb

      You are looking at visa waiver link. We are talking about the Visa INTERVIEW Waiver Program. We still need the visa but don’t need to attend the interview.

  • Dp

    I used the dropbox submission for my H1 renewal and haven’t received my passport back. I was told it was going to take up to 3 business days. I went to the US Embassy on the 4th day and was told that an officer has reviewed my documents and wants to interview me now.

    Today is the 5th day and I still haven’t received an email calling me in for an interview. I’ve already cancelled my return flight but this is annoying.

    • prasadb

      What day did you submit the documents? Did you go to the embassy or the OFC? Where did you enquire about the passport at embassy?

      • Dp

        I went to the OFC to submit my documents- I submitted my passport, original I797, DS 160 barcode page, visa fee and a photograph. I submitted my docs on 24th Dec at the Team Stanley office, and the embassy received them on the 26th (per the passport tracking customer service).

        I was able to get in the visa section in the Delhi embassy where interviews are held and was informed there by an Indian official at a counter where other people were picking up passports.

    • SI

      Have you received your passport yet? I have a similar situation. I submitted my documents for h1b renewal on 3rd jan @ chennai OFC. the ceac website shows status ready. Its going to be a month.. still no response.. I had to reschedule my travel plan as well..

    • Shreekant Deshpande

      When did you get your passport back with your visa?

  • Vickey

    I meet all the criteria, except the fact that my last H1B visa was issued in Canada instead of India, Do I still qualify for IWP in Canada? My employer, visa class , position and everything is same and my visa expired with last 3 months.

    Please advise as per should I get the visa stamped in India or canada if I want IWP to be counted?

    Can Canadian US embassy assist?

    • Gil

      No you don’t, employer needs to be same

  • Sam

    Hi All,
    My Wife & Son were recently applied for H4 and they were qualified for Drop box. I filled all the
    required documents for them (DS-160 & profile created). Once I selected YES for Drop box eligibility criteria, DROP BOX Confirmation was created and that needs to be printed. DS-160 was completed.
    Sent the below documents via email (Scanned copies)
    DS-160, Dropbox confirmation letter, I-797A, I-129, LCA, My passport, Employer Verification & continuation, Pay stubs (4months), Bank statements (4months), scanned copy sent to them as well.

    My wife handed over the below documents at the Drop box center (Team Stanley office @ Chennai)

    1. My wife’s passport

    2. My I797A copy

    3. DS-160 confirmation page

    4. Her US visa passport (1)

    5. My passport copies (visa page and last page it seems)

    6. My son’s passport

    7. She also carried Drop box confirmation letter, Visa fee receipt.

    She submitted the docs on Monday Apr 01 2013 at 2-3pm and she received the passports on Friday Apr 5th 2013 with approval (Though we selected and submitted the docs in Chennai center, in the approved Visa printed as Mumbai for Place of Issue).

    I though this would be useful to some of you guys.

    Also, when I contacted customer services for few questions they were very responsive.
    Here is the email id I used : ‘support-india@ustraveldocs.com’

    They might answer you some of your special cases.

    Thanks,

    Sam

    • vishnuasus85

      Approvs

    • h1_h4

      Hi…
      My Spouse have visa extended till 2016 with the same employer and we also match the eligibility criteria for the Visa Interview waiver program, his recent visa stamped expired in Nov 2013. But the scenario is like, I and my son accompanied him to US on H4. Later I got the consultancy to file my H1b and applied for COS but he was not able to provide me the project, so I was out of status for 4 months and didnt had any pay stubs. I came to India with my son for Visa stamping on H4 from here. Also my son have valid visa extended upto 2016 as of my husband. So my Question is can I apply for H4 on my previous H4 visa on passport through Interview waiver program. My husband have all the required documents ranging from client letter, LCA, I-129, paystubs, bank statements, i797, MSA, W2 and many other relevant docs..
      Please advise .

  • 200dulkar

    PLEASE ADVICE!

    My most recent visa was issued(in India) in Dec 2009. I have
    been working for the same employer. My H1 visa was extended(for 1 year) in Nov
    2010, Nov 2011 and Nov 2012.

    Am I eligible for Interview Waiver?

  • Dharam

    Hello All, I have changed my company. and I am going to india. Do I need to go for personal interview or I am eligible for dropbox service?

  • jane

    i am confused. i had a F1 visa issued after jan 2008 and before nov 2008 (may 2008). so which one applies to me?

  • S kumar

    i am little bit confused on the eligibility criteria for drop box or interview waiver.. when they say applicant issued visa after 1st nov 2008 .. does that mean .. last visa renewal or 1st visa..

    thanks for the help..

    Kumar

  • h1_h4

    Hi…
    My Spouse have visa extended till 2016 with the same employer
    and we also match the eligibility criteria for the Visa Interview waiver
    program, his recent visa stamped expired in Nov 2013. But the scenario
    is like, I and my son accompanied him to US on H4. Later I got the
    consultancy to file my H1b and applied for COS but he was not able to
    provide me the project, so I was out of status for 4 months and didnt
    had any pay stubs. I came to India with my son for Visa stamping on H4
    from here. Also my son have valid visa extended upto 2016 as of my
    husband. So my Question is can I apply for H4 on my previous H4 visa on
    passport through Interview waiver program. My husband have all the
    required documents ranging from client letter, LCA, I-129, paystubs,
    bank statements, i797, MSA, W2 and many other relevant docs..
    Please advise

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