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Since 2005, Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) has worked hand-in-hand with the US government to secure visas for Indian citizens.
VFS is not a part of the US Government but an Indian agency working as a facilitator for US visa processing. US consulates and embassies are the world's busiest posts for visa application and processing. To relieve the pressure on the consulates and embassies, VFS manages all the administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa applications. This enables the US to focus on the key tasks of assessment and interview.
Under this system, applicants are asked to complete their visa forms online using an interactive web site that assists applicants in avoiding data entry errors. The system provides applicants with a convenient and professional service and decreases the waiting time for interviews by encouraging only those applicants who will actually appear for an interview to make an appointment.
All visa interview appointments in India are done through the VFS web site www.vfs-usa.co.in which also gives comprehensive details of various US visas, fees, documents, forms and answers to frequently asked questions.
As the demand for US visas is always high, the web site is often jammed and one must be patient to book an appointment.
The available dates for appointment change based on the supply/demand of visas, the number of available officers at the consulate and by season.
For example, March to May and October to December is the season for tourists while July to September and December to January is the season for student applicants.
Go on the Visa Facilitation Services web site and click on the blue link stating 'HDFC [Get Quote] Bank' in the middle of the page. It will take you to a listing of HDFC branches that accept US visa fees throughout India; some branches do not accept US visa fees. Find the one nearest to you and make a trip to the bank! Please carry a photocopy of the first page of your passport.
The fees to be paid at HDFC Bank per passport are:
1. Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee): $100 (about Rs 4,200)
This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favouring 'US Embassy -- Visa Fees' or 'American Consulate General -- Mumbai or Chennai or Kolkata'. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
2. Service Charge: Rs 322, which includes the Visa Facilitation Service charge of Rs 310 and bank service charge Rs 12.
This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favouring "HDFC Bank a/c VFS". DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
You may make an appointment two working days after you get your fee receipt by HDFC Bank. Log on to www.vfs-usa.co.in where you can take an appointment by quoting your fee receipt details.
You must appear for an interview within one year (365 days) from the date you purchased your fee receipt from HDFC Bank. If you do not appear for an interview within one year after the purchase of your fee receipt, it will no longer be valid.
Applicants that have failed to appear for their scheduled interview appointment are considered as 'no show' applicants. If this happens to you, you must reactivate your HDFC bank receipt a minimum of two working days after your scheduled interview appointment date. To do this, visit any of the VFS application centres along with your passport and valid original HDFC bank fee receipt.
Pay a service charge of Rs 155 per applicant. This fee has to be paid at the VFS application centre, in cash or via demand draft in favour of 'HDFC bank a/c VFS'.
Note: This fee is not to be paid at HDFC bank.
You can then use the same HDFC bank fee receipt to schedule a new interview appointment within the validity period of the HDFC bank fee receipt (one year from the date of purchase).
You can contact VFS by e-mail or by phone. You must call the office that has jurisdiction over your area:
Contact No. Contact Email ID New Delhi Consular post 011 42220000 Chennai Consular post 044 42316767 Mumbai Consular post 022 66547600 Kolkata Consular post 033 22882480
Contact Email ID
New Delhi Consular post
Chennai Consular post
Mumbai Consular post
Kolkata Consular post
An applicant whose passport expires in the next six to twelve months is advised to obtain a new passport before purchasing a the fee receipt from HDFC.
In the event your passport is lost or expired, you should book your appointment using your old passport number. The new passport number will be updated in your visa record
The HDFC fee receipt is void once the interview has taken place and cannot be used to make a subsequent appointment.
If you lose your fee receipt, you must pay the fees again and get a new receipt.
If you are an Indian citizen residing in the US, to obtain a fee receipt from HDFC Bank, fax a copy of your passport's bio-data page to a contact in India. That person will have to submit the fax to HDFC Bank in order to get a fee receipt issued.
If you have permanently moved location in the last six months, and are not on a temporary transfer, you should apply at the VFS office covering your current residence.
When entering your fee receipt number (the barcode number), you will also be asked to create a password based on your 'Mother's Name'. You must remember your password, which will be necessary to reschedule/cancel your interview or modify/download your visa application. If you forget your password, contact VFS.
If you completed your application forms online but forgot to make your visa interview appointment, VFS saves your forms for seven days. After seven days, they are deleted from the system and you must refill the forms.
If you completed your application forms online and booked your visa interview appointment, VFS saves your forms and you can retrieve and modify them up to two business days before your interview. Go to the VFS web site, click the 'Apply for Non-immigrant Visa' link and continue until the 'Retrieve/Modify a saved application' link appears. Click on this link, follow the instructions and make your changes.
The 'Reschedule' option on the website is now withdrawn. If you wish to move your interview appointment to a new date, you must first cancel your existing interview appointment. You will then be required to complete your visa application forms and schedule a new appointment.
Cancel your appointment only if you have a very good reason; you may not be able to find another appointment slot available for several weeks because of backlogged appointments. You can cancel your scheduled interview appointment a maximum of two times. After your second cancellation, your HDFC fee receipt will get disabled for a period of 90 days. You will not be able to take a new appointment during that period.
In application forms, respond to all the questions. If you have no response for a question, write 'None' or 'Nil'. Do not draw a line or write 'NA' or 'not applicable'.
If you have only one name, a 'first name', enter your name in Box 6 of DS-156 form (surnames) and write 'FNU' (First Name Unavailable) in Box 7 (First & Middle Names).
If you do not appear for your visa interview appointment, your HDFC fee receipt will be deactivated. You will not be able to book another appointment. If you have a valid reason why you did not appear for your appointment, you can request VFS to reactivate your fee receipt. To do this, you must personally visit the VFS office nearest you.
All applicants will be fingerprinted except children under 14 years old and adults over 79 years.
Part II: Tomorrow
Join Dr Vakil for a Get Ahead chat at 4 pm on July 26. The topic will be: 'Using VFS to get your dream visa'
Dr Arun C Vakil (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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