It can take a long time to apply for a visa to enter the United States. Not only do you have to collect and submit a large number of official documents, but you also have to fill out the required visa application. When you meet with a U.S. consular officer, your documents and application will be checked for accuracy. However, most visa applicants will need to make an appointment at an office facility before going to the consulate (OFC).
What exactly is OFC and what should you expect from your appointment? A list of OFC FAQs can be found below.
What is an OFC appointment?
Most visa applicants in the United States will be asked to provide biometric data, such as fingerprints and photographs. Biometrics used to be collected during in-person interviews, however, they are now being collected during OFC appointments due to recent changes to the procedure.
OFCs were developed by the US State Department to expedite the processing of visa applications. You will receive fingerprints and be photographed during the appointment and you will need to provide all your official documents. Before meeting with a US consular officer, you should make an OFC appointment at a Visa Application Center (VAC).
See: How to pass Visa F1 interview questions
You will usually be asked to provide the following official documents at OFC appointments:
- Your original passport, as well as any expired passports.
- A printout of your appointment confirmation page from OFC.
- Copy of the visa application page
If you have not arranged and printed all your documents before your OFC appointment, you may not be allowed to attend.
What to expect during An OFC appointment?
A visa interview is not included in an OFC appointment. takes place after your appointment. You will need to bring your passports as well as hard copies of your appointment confirmation and visa application. You will also fill in biometric data (fingerprints) and take a photo of your visa in the center.
What happens once after an OFC appointment?
After your appointment, you should schedule a visa interview with a U.S. Consular Officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy.
After the visa interview, you must return to the OFC where you first applied for your passport to receive your passport. Prepare to make a hard copy of your visa application to obtain your passport.
You will not be asked to take your fingerprints if you qualify for the visa interview waiver. Alternatively, you can leave the required documents in a “DropBox” location. The following visa applicants are eligible for interview exemption:
- People under 14 years old
- People over 80 years
- Applicants consider their visa in the same category
- Applicants whose visas fall into the following category:
If you are unsure or confused about your eligibility for an interview waiver, then be sure to contact the US Embassy or Consulate.
Are there any costs associated with an OFC appointment?
Biometric and photo charges are included in the visa application fee, so you will not have to pay anything extra for the appointment.
What are the locations of the off-site help centers?
OFCs are usually located near the US Embassy in your area.
Things to keep in mind
- If you need an appointment, it can be scheduled at the same time as the visa interview.
- If an appointment is required, you will not be able to attend the visa interview until you have submitted all the necessary documents and received your biometrics and photographs during an OFC visit.
- An OFC facility will not be used for the visa interview. The visa interview will be conducted with a consular officer at the nearest US embassy.
- In an OFC, there is a high level of security. You will not be allowed to bring personal items with you, including a mobile phone, other than the necessary documents.
- US embassy officials will not be present on an OFC website because it is normally handled by third parties.
- At your local OFC center, there will be people who speak your language.
- While most visa applicants are legally required to attend an OFC appointment, some individuals may not be required to do so. Those who do not need to attend an OFC appointment are eligible for the DropBox program, which simply allows them to submit their visa application documents to a nearby DropBox. Contact your local US Embassy to see if you qualify.
- If you qualify for the DropBox program, simply bring the required documents to the nearest Drop Box location. Once you submit your documents, you will be notified when your visa processing is complete.
- Before going to your OFC appointment, make sure you have all the relevant documents. Failure to provide the required documents may prevent you from entering the facility, reschedule your appointment at the OFC, and visa processing may be delayed.
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