State Department Announces Online Immigrant Visa Application

The US Department of State (DOS) has announced Form DS-260, a new, completely electronic application for foreign nationals seeking immigrant visas at U.S. consulates abroad. The new form has not yet been made available for use by the public, but is expected eventually to replace Form DS-230, the paper-based immigrant visa application. Initially, DOS will accept either the paper-based or the electronic version of the application.

Form DS-260 has been in development at the State Department for several years and follows implementation of Form DS-160, the electronic nonimmigrant visa application form that was introduced in late 2008 and became mandatory for all nonimmigrant visa applicants in April 2010. The DS-260 form is expected to resemble its nonimmigrant counterpart.

When Form DS-260 is fully implemented, users will electronically complete, sign and submit their applications online; they will not submit a paper application to DOS. Applicants will be permitted to have their immigration counsel assist them in filling out the form, but will be required to complete the electronic signature portion themselves. The completed application will then be transmitted to DOS, where it will be visible to officers at the National Visa Center – the DOS division that administratively processes immigrant visa applications – and to adjudicating officers at U.S. consulates.

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