H1-B Visa: What is the ‘drop box’ facility and why is the US giving preference to it?

Due to the long wait attached to the grant of visas, the US will increase the ‘drop box facilities’ and also hire more personnel. Indians going to the States are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries as the officials have identified H1-B and L-category visas for Indians as an important priority. 

H-1 B visa is issued for persons in specialty occupations whereas the L visa is issued for intracompany transferees. The US embassy in India said that in the first nine months of 2022, the US Mission has processed around 160,000 H and L visas and will continue to prioritise H and L workers for visa appointments. 

But what is the drop box facility and how is it of help? 

Drop box facility refers to the process of applying for the renewal of a US visa without a visa interview. Those holding business and tourism (B1/B2 visas), work (H1-B and L visas), other visas, and students and exchange visitors are eligible for this. 

Applicants having a US visa within the last four years are eligible for the drop box facility. The US is using this facility as a means to reduce waiting times for students’ visas, especially for those wanting to renew their visas. This will also prove to be of great help as the US is planning to issue nearly one lakh visas on a monthly basis. 

Waiting time for some categories has been brought down to nine months from 450 days whereas the waiting time for B1 and B2 visas is being brought down to around 9 months. 

US consular offices have been authorised to waive in-person interviews for applicants of individual petition-based non-immigrant work visas and their derivatives till December 31, 2022. These visas include H1-B visas (persons in specialty occupations), H-3 visas (trainee or special education visas), L visas (intracompany transferees), O visas (individuals with extraordinary ability or achievements), P visas (athletes, artists, and entertainers), Q visas (international cultural exchange programs), H-2 visas (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers), F and M visas (students) and academic J visas (student exchange visitors). 

Indians to be given number one priority

Washington will now give number one priority to Indians for the issuance of visas. The US is expecting India to overtake China in terms of the visas being issued by the US. Mexico and China are ahead of India at present. An official told the news agency ANI, “India is a number one priority for Washington right now. We have big categories in students, high-tech workers, tourists, and business.”

Also read: ‘Come back home’: Dream11 founder tells laid off Indian techies in the US

Also read: EXPLAINED | Want to apply for UK visa? Find out if you are eligible

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