Foreign nationals applying for a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad must complete and submit the online Form DS-160 before scheduling the visa interview. Each foreign national (including dependents) seeking a visa stamp must complete a Form DS-160. The consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application, combined with a personal interview and review of the applicant’s social media accounts, to determine eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.
The Form DS-160 can be found on the U.S. Department of State website at the link here: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/.
- Carefully answer all questions on the Form DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment.
- Once you begin filing out the DS-160 online, the website will time-out or expire within 20 minutes. In order to save your progress, you must click on the page and record your Application ID Number and/or save your application to a file on your computer. The Application ID Number is displayed on the top right-hand corner of the page after you begin filling out the online form.
- You may complete your Form DS-160 over time, as long as you saved your progress. You have 30 days to return to a partially completed application and complete the DS-160. To access your application after 30 days, you must save it to your computer hard drive or USD flash drive.
- Failure to submit Form DS-160 prior to the interview will result in having to obtain another visa interview date and pay additional visa fees.
Steps to Completing the DS-160:
Step 1: Determine the applicable visa category
The purpose of intended travel to the United States and other factors will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. If you are unsure which visa you need, contact your immigration counsel.
Step 2: Gather the required documents to complete the DS-160
Assemble the following documents to complete the DS-160:
- Valid Passport (passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you intend to enter the U.S. Ideally, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the requested validity period of your application, as a CBP officer may shorten your stay in the U.S. to match your passport expiration date at the time of your entry to the U.S.
- Digital image of your photo (a color photo with a white background taken within the last 6 months. For further details on photo requirements, please visit this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/photos.html
- Travel Itinerary - Provide an itinerary if you already have confirmed travel dates; otherwise, you may use approximate travel dates. Your end date (date you plan to leave the U.S. should not exceed the requested validity end date of your application or petition).
- Travel History to the U.S. - If you previously travelled to the United States, you must list the last five (5) dates or trips you entered the U.S. You may also be asked to provide the last five (5) years.
- Social Media Account - You must provide information about all social media accounts you have used within the last five years, including your social media account name and URL, and username. You are not required to provide the password. Please note all dependents will also need to provide their social media account information.
- Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV) - You may need to provide information about your education and work history. We recommend checking with immigration counsel prior to including your resume with a visa application.
- Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M): You must provide your most recent SEVIS ID, which is printed on your I-20 or DS-2019, and the address of the school/program where you intend to study or train.
- Petition-based Temporary Workers (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C): You will need a copy of your Form I-797 approval notice (if already approved by USCIS), Form I-129, or Form I-129S (Blanket L-1).
Step 3: Note the Application ID displayed on the Top Right-Hand Corner of the DS-160 Screen or Save the DS-160 to Your Computer
Step 4: Complete the DS-160
Follow the instructions on each page and fill out the answers completely and accurately. You may mark N/A or not applicable (where allowed and if appropriate). All answers must be in English and must use the English alphabet. The form will allow you to review your answers to all questions at the end prior to submission.
Step 5: Sign and Submit the DS-160 Electronically
Click on the “Sign Application” button to sign your application electronically and click the “Submit” button. Once submitted you will see a confirmation page on your screen with a barcode.
Step 6: Print Out a Copy of the Confirmation Page with the Barcode
Save a copy of the confirmation page with the barcode in a safe place, as you will need to present the page during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, your visa may not be able to be processed.
Each dependent (spouse and/or child) that requires a U.S. visa must fill out and complete a Form DS-160.
If you are applying and/or travelling together as a family or as part of a group. At the end of your DS-160, select “Email Confirmation” on the Confirmation Page. You will be directed to a “Thank You” page. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, some information from your application will automatically be imported into a new DS-160. Please note that if you use this option you must create an individual application for each family member or for each individual within the group.
Helpful Tips and FAQ
Helpful tips and information on the DS-160 can be found on the U.S. Department of State website’s frequently asked questions, at this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/forms/ds-160-online-nonimmigrant-visa-application/ds-160-faqs.html
The U.S. Department of State website’s also provides a helpful walkthrough tutorial. To see an example, please click the link here: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/PDF-other/DS-160-Example_11012019.pdf
Once you review, complete and submit the Form DS-160 for yourself and each dependent that will require a visa stamp, you and each dependent (if applicable) will need to pay the visa fees and schedule a visa interview. The visa fees and availability of dates for a visa interview will depend on the U.S. Consulate and/or Embassy that will process your visa. For more information on the visa process, click here.