Applying for a visa to enter the US might take a lot of time. Along with gathering and producing a substantial number of official documents, you must also submit the necessary visa application. Your paperwork will be scrutinized for accuracy when you meet with a US consular official.
However, before visiting the consulate, the majority of visa applicants must schedule an appointment at an office facilitation centre (OFC).
What is an OFC exactly, and what can you anticipate from your position? Below is a list of questions about the OFC that are commonly asked.
What is an OFC appointment?
The majority of visa applicants in the US will be required to submit biometric information, like fingerprints and photos. Biometrics were previously acquired during in-person interviews, however recent changes to the procedure mean that they are now obtained during OFC appointments.
The US State Department created OFCs to hasten the processing of visa applications. During the appointment, you will be required to produce all of your official documents and will be fingerprinted and photographed. You must attend an OFC appointment at a visa application centre before meeting with a US consulate officer (VAC).
At OFC appointments, you will typically be requested to present the following official documents:
- Your original passport, as well as any passports that have expired.
- A printout of your appointment confirmation page from the OFC.
- A copy of your visa application page
If you do not have all of your documentation in order and printed before your OFC appointment, you may not be permitted to attend.
What to expect during an OFC Appointment?
An OFC appointment does not include a visa interview; the interview happens after your appointment. Along with your printed hard copies of your appointment confirmation and visa application, you must bring your passports. Additionally, the centre will conduct biometrics (fingerprinting) and take your visa photo.
What happens once after an OFC Appointment?
You must set up a visa interview with a US consular official at the closest US embassy after your appointment.
After your visa interview, you must pick up your passport at the OFC where you first submitted your passport application (s). Get ready to submit a printed hard copy of your visa application in order to obtain your passport (s).
If you qualify for a waiver of the visa interview, you won’t need to have your fingerprints taken. As an alternative, you can deliver the needed paperwork to a “DropBox” address. The following visa applicants qualify for an exemption from the interview:
- People under the age of 14 years
- People over the age of 80
- Applicants reviewing their visa under the same category
Applicants whose visas come under the below category:
Consult the U.S. embassy or consulate if you are uncertain or unclear about your eligibility for an interview waiver.
Are there any costs associated with an OFC Appointment?
You won’t be required to pay an additional fee for the appointment because the cost of biometrics and photos is already included in the price of your visa application.
What are the locations of offsite facilitation centers?
OFCs are typically positioned close to the local U.S. embassy.
Things to keep in mind:
- If you need an appointment, it can be scheduled at the same time as your visa interview.
- If an appointment is required, you will not be able to attend your visa interview until you have presented all essential documents and had your biometrics and pictures taken during an OFC visit.
- An OFC facility will not be used for your visa interview. Your visa interview will take place with a consular officer at your nearest US embassy.
- At an OFC, there is a high level of security. You will not be allowed to bring any personal belongings with you, including a cell phone, except for the needed paperwork.
- Officials from the US embassy will not be present at an OFC site because they are normally handled by third-party entities.
- At your local OFC centre, there will be people who speak your language.
While most visa applicants are legally compelled to attend an OFC appointment, some persons may not be required to do so. Those who do not need to attend an OFC appointment are eligible for the DropBox programme, which allows them to simply drop off their visa application documents at a nearby DropBox. Please check with your local US embassy to see if you are eligible.
If you are eligible for the DropBox programme, simply bring the required papers to your nearest Drop Box location. Once you’ve submitted your paperwork, you’ll be notified when your visa has been processed.
Before going to your OFC appointment, make sure you have all of the relevant paperwork. If you fail to present the required papers, you may be denied entry to the facility, will have to reschedule your OFC appointment, and your visa processing may be delayed.