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
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
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
Question 7. Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link
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
Question 8. Should I save my application before I
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?
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
Question 10. Do I bring my entire application with
me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page?
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
Question 11. I am traveling with my family or as
part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?
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.
When I apply for a nonimmigrant visa using the online DS-160, are additional
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-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?
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.)