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Frequently Asked Questions for Form DS-160, the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
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All U.S. consulates and embassies will soon require nonimmigrant visa applicants to use Form DS-160, the Department of State’s fully electronic nonimmigrant visa application, instead of Form DS-156, the paper-based application. Form DS-160 has been in use at selected U.S. diplomatic posts for some time, but the State Department announced late last year that all U.S. posts will require the online form by April 30, 2010 at the latest. Many posts have already adopted the form, and more will begin to require it as April 30 approaches.

The following are some frequently asked questions about using the DS-160 online application.

Question 1. Where can I find the DS-160?

Answer: You can access the DS-160 from the Consular Electronic Application Center website or from the link on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.

Question 2. Can my answers be in my native language?

Answer: No. All application questions, except as specially provided, must be in English, using English characters only. Applications that are submitted in any language other than English may be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

Question 3. Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?

Answer: Most fields on the DS-160 are mandatory. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply”. If that field does not apply to you, you may mark the box next to “Does Not Apply.” All other fields must be completed: the application will not allow you to submit a form with any mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.

Question 4. What happens if I need to step away in the middle of data entry?

Answer: The DS-160 will “time out” approximately 20 minutes after the application has been idle. The “time out” is designed to protect your privacy. If the application times out, all the data that has been entered will be lost. In order to guard against possible “time out” issues you should save the application at regular intervals while you are completing the application.

To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the Save As window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete you can click “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Import Application Date” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.

Question 5. I understand that I can upload a photo with my application. How do I get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application?

Answer: Please refer to the Guidelines for Photographs - for Online Visa Applications for detailed guidance for using a digital camera, and requirements for scanned images.

Question 6. The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

Answer: That means that the photo upload failed. Therefore, you will need to submit one printed photograph meeting requirements, along with the online DS-160 confirmation page. Please verify with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying for specific instructions on how to attach your photo to your confirmation page. See the print photo format found in the Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements. If the confirmation page includes a photo image, then the photo upload function has succeeded and no separate print photograph is required.

Question 7. Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link not save?

Answer: In order for data changes made from the review page links to save, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser's back/forward buttons or the buttons along the left of the screen.

Question 8. Should I save my application before I submit it?

Answer: YES! You should, if you can, save your application locally (to either your computer hard drive or a CD) before you submit your application. Saving your application locally is beneficial in two ways. First, if your application is rejected by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for being incomplete, i.e., your application contains non-responsive answers or you failed to answer a critical question, you will be able access your saved application data, correct the non-responsive or incomplete answers and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application. Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa and submit the updated application. This will save you time by not having to re-enter information that has not changed since the last time you applied.

Question 9. How do I save my application?

Answer: To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the Save As window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete, you can click “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Import Application Date” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.

Question 10. Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page?

Answer: You should not bring your entire application. Your confirmation page is all that is needed to retrieve your application data. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your visa case.

Question 11. I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

Answer: Yes. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you will need to create an individual application for each of your family members traveling with you or for each individual within the group.

Question 12. If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system?
Answer: Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, the applicant can alter that data on the application before submitting.

Question 13. When I apply for a nonimmigrant visa using the online DS-160, are additional forms required?

Answer: No, with two exceptions. When applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that is using the new DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, you will use only one (1) form. For Embassies and Consulates that have converted to this new process, the DS-160 has replaced all of the following forms: DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary.

NOTE: The exceptions are Fiancee Visas (K-1/K-2) which still require use of the forms DS-156 and DS-156K, and the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa application, which is explained in #14 below. It is important to check the Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for your nonimmigrant visa for information on the application process in place. Embassies and consulates worldwide will transition one-by-one to the DS-160. Therefore, those Embassies which have not yet converted to the new DS-160 online form continue to require all application forms, as necessary.

Question 14. I am applying for a Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa. Do I need to fill out the DS-160 and the DS-156E?

Answer: It depends. If you are an E Visa, Principal Investor (E-2) applicant, all you need to complete is the DS-160. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee you will need to complete the DS-160 and you or your employer will need to complete the paper DS-156E. (Sometime next year a new form, the DS-161, E Visa Business Information form, will be released. This form will allow you or your employer to complete an online form and submit the form electronically to the Department. Until that time all treaty traders, executives, managers, and essential employees of an E visa business will be required to complete and submit the paper DS-156E.)



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