Completing and filing Form DS 160 for your US visa
When applying for a US visa from a US Embassy for temporary travel, the first stage in the visa application process will be to complete form DS-160.
DS-160 is an online form on the Department of State website used to collate personal information about you, your travel and employment history, as well as details of your planned visit to the US.
The information you submit will be considered by the Consulate, alongside the answers you provide at your visa interview and the results of the background and security checks, to determine your eligibility and suitability for the visa.
Each applicant, including children, must have their own form DS-160 in support of their respective visa application.
DS-160 replaces the DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, so for the majority cases, it’s the only form required for nonimmigrant visa applications.
There are exceptions to this however where, in addition to the DS-160, the following will also be required:
- E1 treaty trader visa or E-1 or E-2 Executive/Manager/Essential Employee: Form DS-156E
- Blanket L-1: Form I-129S
- F/M visa – students: Form I-20 and SEVIS Receipt
- J visa – exchange visitors: DS-2019 and SEVIS Receipt
- H, O or P visa temporary workers, artists, athletes: Form I-797 and other documents related to your employment
- A, G or NATO visa diplomats and officials: Diplomatic Note
- I visa journalists; B1, A3, G5 visa domestic worker; C1/D visa crew: Letter from employer verifying details of employment, and letter from inviting organization in the US, if applicable
Completing form DS 160
Completing the form fully and correctly will be crucial to your visa application as a whole. Omissions, errors or misrepresentations can result in delays or possibly even refusal of your petition.
Before starting to complete the form, it’s worthwhile reading through to ensure you understand what’s required and the documents you’ll need to refer to. For example, you should have to hand your:
- Planned itinerary, where you have already made travel plans
- Employment history / résumé with information about your current and previous education and work history
- Digital photograph, compliant to Embassy specification
- Contact information when in the US – this could be your employer in the US, or an individual who can verify your identity or the hotel you plan to stay at
- Travel history – notably dates of your last five visits to the US where applicable, and your international travel history for the past five years.
- Criminal history and previous immigration violations
- Form I-129 and I-797 Approval Notice if you’re a temporary worker (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C)
Make a note when you start of the application ID number. This is your unique reference code, required if you need to return to the document to complete it, and in future communications relating to this specific application. You will also need to present the application ID number at your visa interview.
You’ll be asked to select an Embassy at the beginning of the application; this must be the Embassy where you will attend the interview.
Expect the form to take around 45 minutes to complete. As you go through the sections, a top tip is to keep saving as you go; the system times out after 20 minutes or less and any unsaved work will be lost.
Be sure to check and double check the completed form before you sign and submit. Once submitted, it won’t be possible to go back in and make amendments – you will have to complete and file a brand new form.
Also ensure you retain a copy of the final, barcoded confirmation page as well as each page of the entire application for your records. You’ll need this for the next stage when you schedule your visa interview.
What happens after you’ve filed the DS 160?
Once you’ve completed and submitted the form on the Department of State website, the next step in your visa application will be to schedule your interview at a local Embassy. You should check the interview information on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website specifically relating to your country’s US Embassy.
For example, you’ll need to bring your confirmation page with your application ID number to your interview. Your biometric details will also be taken.
You’ll also at this point be required to pay the relevant visa application processing fee.
Can I use my DS 160 more than once?
You have to file a DS-160 for each separate visa application you make.
However, where you have previously completed the form and now require a new visa, it is possible to reuse information from your previously submitted DS-160 to populate certain fields on a new form.
Be sure to check all of this information remains correct and up to date.
What if your visa application is refused?
If the DS-160 contains errors, the Consulate may have grounds to deny your application.
In such cases, depending on the nature of the error, it may be possible for you to request to correct the information on your form.
As a result of the issue, it may also be the case that you have to attend a further Consular interview. You should seek immediate clarification from the Embassy on your position.
NNU Immigration are a team of London-based attorneys specializing exclusively in US immigration law.
We help individuals with all types of US visa applications, including petitions for temporary, nonimmigrant visas requiring the DS-160.
While we are not able to represent clients in solely drafting DS-160s without our full involvement in the visa application process, if your application was refused as a result of incorrect information on your DS-160 you may now have a more difficult time obtaining your visa, particularly if the officer believes deception, fraud or misrepresentation had been carried out in the submission of the initial DS-160 form. You therefore may require legal assistance moving forward.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
Last updated: 13 December 2019