Applying for a visa to enter the United States can be a long process. Not only do you need to collect and present numerous official documents, but you also need to complete the appropriate visa application. Your documents and application will be assessed for accuracy when you meet with a U.S. consular officer. But before your appointment at the consulate, most visa applicants will have to schedule an appointment at an office facilitation center (OFC).
What is an OFC and what should you expect to happen during your appointment? Below, you’ll find a guide to frequently asked OFC questions.
New to the U.S.? Subscribe to our newsletter, Arrive, for newcomer news and guides to decoding life in the U.S.
What is an OFC Appointment?
Most U.S. visa applicants will be legally required to provide biometric information, including fingerprints and photographs. Previously, biometrics were collected during personal interviews but due to recent changes to the process, biometrics are now collected during OFC appointments.
The U.S. State Department established OFCs to speed up visa application processing times. During the appointment, you’ll get your fingerprints and photograph taken; you’ll also be required to present all your official documents. OFC appointments take place at visa application centers (VACs) before you meet with a U.S. consular officer.
What documents are required for an OFC appointment?
DuringOFC appointments, you typically need to present the following official documents:
Your original passport as well as any expired passports.
A printed copy of your OFC appointment confirmation page.
A printed copy of your visa application page.
Make sure that you have all your documents in order and printed before your OFC appointment or you may not be allowed to attend the appointment.
What to expect during an OFC appointment
An OFC appointment does not include a visa interview — this step occurs after your OFC appointment.
During your OFC appointment, you will be required to present your passports(s) as well as printed hard copies of your OFC appointment confirmation and visa application. At the center, you will also complete biometrics (fingerprinting) and have your visa photo taken.
What happens after an OFC appointment?
Following your OFC appointment, you will need to attend an appointment for a visa interview with a U.S. consular at your local U.S. embassy.
After attending your visa interview, you will need to return to the OFC you originally visited to collect your passport(s). In order to obtain your passport(s), be prepared to present a printed hard copy of your visa application.
If you are eligible for a visa interview waiver, you will not need to have your fingerprints taken. Instead, you can submit the necessary documents at a “Drop Box” facility. Visa applicants who qualify for an interview waiver include:
Individuals under the age of 14
Individuals over the age of 80
Applicants renewing their visa under the same category
Applicants whose visa falls under the following categories:
If you are unsure if you are eligible for an interview waiver, check with the U.S. embassy.
Are there any fees for an OFC appointment?
You do not need to pay any separate fees for an OFC appointment as biometrics and photo costs are including in your visa application fee.
Where are offsite facilitation centers located?
OFCs are typically located close to your local U.S. embassy.
Things to remember
In addition to the above-mentioned information, you should be aware of the following:
If you require an OFC appointment, it can be scheduled when your visa interview is scheduled.
An OFC appointment takes place before a visa interview. If you are required to attend an OFC appointment, you will not be able to attend your visa interview until you present the necessary documents and have your biometrics and photographs taken during an OFC appointment.
Your visa interview will not take place at an OFC facility. Your visa interview will take place at your local U.S. embassy with a consular officer.
There is strict security at an OFC. Other than the required documents, you will not be allowed to take any personal possessions with you, including a cell phone.
OFC facilities are usually managed by third-party organizations; officials from the U.S. embassy will not be at an OFC facility.
There will be individuals who speak your language at your local OFC facility.
While an OFC appointment is legally required for most visa applicants, certain individuals may not be required to attend this appointment. Those who do not need to attend an OFC appointment qualify for the Drop Box program and can simply place the necessary documentation for their visa application at a local Drop Box. Contact your local US embassy to confirm if you are eligible.
If you do qualify for the Drop Box program, simply submit the necessary documentation at your local Drop Box facility. After you submit your documentation, you will receive notification once your visa has been processed.
Gather all necessary documentation prior to attending your OFC appointment. If you fail to provide the necessary documentation, you will not be permitted to enter the facility, will need to reschedule your OFC appointment, and may experience delays in your visa processing timeline.
An OFC appointment is intended to simplify and speed up visa processing. During this appointment, your biometrics and visa photograph will be taken. It’s a simple and straightforward process that occurs before your visa interview. Once you complete your OFC appointment, you will be able to attend your visa interview.
Whether you’re visiting for a short time or moving, Nova Credit has many resources to help you your time in the U.S. Visit our resource library where you can learn about everything from renting an apartment to finding the best credit cards for noncitizens.
Moved to the U.S. from Australia, India or the UK?
Start your U.S. credit building journey on the right foot
A strong credit score helps you access a lot in the U.S., and a credit card is an easy way to start building your U.S. credit score. Access your free international credit score, and see which U.S. credit cards could be right for you. No SSN required
More from Nova Credit: