Children’s Visa Applications May Use Drop Box in India

Our Indian affiliate, Murthy Immigration Services, Pvt. Ltd. (MISPL) recently provided an update regarding the procedures for nonimmigrant visa applications for young children applying within India. This article summarizes information provided to readers of the MurthyIndiaBulletin, as it is also important to many MurthyDotCom readers who may need to apply for nonimmigrant visas for their young children in India.

General Rule: Interview Waiver for Young Child Under Seven Years

A recent update on the VFS WebSite indicates that the nonimmigrant visa interview is waived at all U.S. Consular offices in India for children who are under seven years of age. VFS is the official administrative partner for the U.S. Embassy and consulates in India. Information on the introduction of a pilot nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program (IWP) for certain visa renewals was provided in our April 13, 2012 NewsBrief, Visa Interview Waiver Program: Two-Year Pilot. This waiver of interviews for young children under seven years of age is an extension of that program.

Specified Circumstances for Drop Box for Young Children

MISPL was able to clarify with VFS that a child under seven years of age will be eligible for an interview waiver in specified circumstances. If the child’s parent is applying for a B-1, B-2, F-1, H1B, J-1, or L-1, then the child’s related visa application may be made through the use of the drop-box facility. That is, the child must be applying for either a B-2 to accompany a B-1/B-2 parent or must be applying for a dependent visa in the F-2, H-4, J-2, or L-2 categories to accompany the F-1, H-1, J-1, or L-1 parent.

Parents’ Choice of Application Process: Personal Interview or Drop Box

According to the information obtained by MISPL, parents do not have to use the drop box for the visa applications for their young children. The parent/s may choose to bring the eligible child applicant for a visa interview or submit the child’s necessary supporting documents directly to the visa official at the time of the parent’s visa interview. As explained below, the choice of procedure may depend upon timing considerations.

Timing Consideration for a Personal Interview

This new procedure is likely a great help to the parent who wishes to avoid traveling to a U.S. consulate with a young child (or children) for a visa interview. There are timing considerations, however. If a parent needs to travel urgently, it may be better to opt for the personal visa interview. Currently, the processing time for applications through the new drop box procedure may take between three and six weeks, or longer.

Personal Interview Possible / Visa Never Guaranteed

It is important to remember that the consular officers may insist, in appropriate situations, that children be brought personally to the appropriate consulate for processing the visa application. MISPL advises that applicants opting to use the VFS drop box for their young children’s applications should cancel any previously scheduled visa interviews set for their children.

It should also be remembered that waivers of the visa interviews do not guarantee visa issuance. Applicants must establish that they meet all eligibility requirements, often through appropriate documentation, in order for their visas to be issued.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.