This blog was updated on 13 December 2020. All the regulations and experiences are post-COVID. The consulates follow CDC guideline, and wearing a mask is mandatory. Hand sanitizing stations have been added now as well.
This blog has been written concerning students in particular.
OFC (Offsite Facilitation Center) Appointment is the process where the U.S Embassy takes your fingerprints and picture. It is a very simple process and does not in any way affect your Visa approval/rejection chances. Most of the countries usually take biometrics. The experience described below is of a New Delhi OFC. This experience is similar to other Indian OFCs as per multiple student experiences and description.
OFC is a day earlier than the actual visa date. You can generally do an OFC on the same day as the visa interview, but it a less preferred way and having a day’s difference is advisable. If you are travelling from a different city with bags/luggage, you have plenty of time before your appointments on both days. The locations are secured sites, and hence nothing will be allowed inside other than your documents. You cannot take your mobile phones inside either.
There are five checkpoints. Here are three documents you will need in OFC:
The sample links we have provided is the same, and yes, you do not need an I20 or the SEVIS fee document. The reason why we are telling you this is because we have seen people taking these document. The following rules are mentioned on the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consulate Affairs Website.
1st and 2nd checkpoint, they will confirm your DS 160 details, name, passport number, etc., along with your passport.
3rd checkpoint, which means security check, just a normal one, nothing fancy.
4th checkpoint, they ask for your passport, DS160 and appointment confirmation. They will ask you to confirm your full name and put a tag on your passport back. The tag states how it will be delivered and also has a bar code on it. This barcode is scanned thrice for the next day. We will get to that in a moment.
5th checkpoint – A lady hands over the counter number. This counter number will blink on the screen against the counter number (post-covid due to lesser people in OFCs, the screen counter number system is not applicable). There are around 10-15 counters, but the number is not 100% confirmed.
As soon as your number blinks, you go to that counter and keep your folder. Indians are sitting at every counter, so do not worry. The officer asks you to read a document that is stuck on the table. It states that every information we provide is true, and forfeiting them will be condemned as perjury.
After this, he will take your picture. If you are wearing glass, they will ask you to take them off and look into the camera. After this, you can put on your glasses, and he will ask you to put your left hand on the fingerprint scanner, then right hand and finally both the thumbs. They finally stamp your DS 160 along with the appointment confirmation.
It is very important. Remember that you will have to take this DS160 and appointment confirmation page to interview the next day.
They ask you to read the information on a notice board given outside. Although it states how to get your passport back after the VO approves/rejects your visa, it is not important.
We hope this helps. You can check out the second day of the actual visa interview experience here.