DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
Now Required by Many U.S. Consulates

If you’re a foreign national applying for a nonimmigrant visa soon, make sure that you
use the correct visa application form. All U.S. consulates and embassies will soon
require J-1 visa applicants to use Form DS-160, the fully electronic application. Form
DS-160 has been in use at a few diplomatic posts for some time.
Many posts have recently adopted it, and more will begin to require the DS-160 by or
before March 1, 2010. All posts will use it by April 30 at the very latest. Form DS-160
replaces Form DS-156.

Contact the post to find out whether Form DS-160 is being used at the U.S. embassy
or consulate where you apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Links to all consular websites
can be found at:
Application requirements are subject to change without notice, so even if the post
does not currently require Form DS-160, it’s best to check again before your visa
appointment to ensure you are using the correct form.

Form DS-160 is available at

For more information on form DS-160, including technical instructions and
requirements, see State Department website:   http://travel.state.


1. How can I find out whether a specific U.S. embassy or consulate requires Form DS-
Contact the post. Links to all U.S. embassies and consulates websites can be found

The form is currently in use at many diplomatic posts, and more will be adding the
requirement between now and April 30, 2010. Visa application requirements are
subject to frequent change without notice, so even if the post does not currently
require Form DS-160, make sure to check again before your visa appointment to
ensure that you meet the most current requirements.

2. How is Form DS-160 different from Form DS-156?
Form DS-160 is completely electronic. It is filled out and submitted to the State
Department online. While Form DS-156 can be filled out online, it has to be
submitted in hard copy to the consulate.

Form DS-160 consolidates several nonimmigrant visa application forms into a single
electronic document. It replaces Form DS-156 and most paper supplements to that
form, including Form DS-157, for male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45,
and Form DS-158, the contact and work history form.  

Form DS-160 contains all questions included in Forms DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158
but also asks for some details not previously requested such as whether the
applicant has ever held a U.S. driver’s license or Social Security number.

3. While I am filling out Form DS-160, should I save my work as I go along? Should I
save an electronic copy once I am finished?

Yes. It is very important to save your work periodically as you progress through the
form.  If more than 20 minutes go by without any activity, the Form DS-160 website
will time out and your data will be lost.  Problems with your internet connection or the
DS-160 website could also lead to data loss. Use the save options on Form DS-160
to help minimize these problems.  Also save a copy of your completed DS-160 form.   
There are two ways to save your work.

(1)  Choose the save button on Form DS-160 to save your work temporarily as you
progress through the form, but it will not save your data if you close your web
browser or if the DS-160 website times out because of inactivity.

(2)  Choose the “save application to file” option to permanently save a partially or
fully completed form, allowing you to save the form to a computer hard drive, CD, or
flash drive. You can then use the saved file to reload your data when you are ready
to resume working on the form. You can also use a permanently saved file to load
your data to a subsequent DS-160 visa application. Note that if you elect to reload
saved data, you will be asked some security questions to confirm your identity.

4. My spouse is the principal visa applicant and I am applying for a visa as his/her
dependent. Form DS-160 does not seem to have any selections for the kind of
dependent visa I need.
How should I fill out the form in this situation?
Once you begin filling out Form DS-160, you will be asked whether you are the
principal applicant for a nonimmigrant visa. If you are a dependent, you should
answer no to this question. You will then be asked to enter the name of the principal
visa holder, the purpose of his or her trip, and possibly other information, such
as the receipt number of the principal’s USCIS nonimmigrant visa petition or, in the
case of a principal J exchange visitor, his or her identification number in the Student
and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your visa category will be
determined based on your answers to these questions.

5. Is a photograph required with Form DS-160?
Yes. You may upload a digital photograph when you electronically submit Form DS-
160. Click here for State Department instructions on digital photographs for Form DS-

If you are unable to upload a digital photograph - either because you do not have
one or because your attempt to upload one was unsuccessful - you must bring to
your visa appointment a print photograph that meets State Department requirements.
Click here for print photograph instructions for nonimmigrant visa applications:

Note: Some consulates using Form DS-160 may require a digital photograph and
may not accept a print photograph. Please contact the consulate where you will apply
for specific information.

6. After I fill out Form DS-160, will I need to complete any other application forms?
No, with some exceptions. Most DS-160 applicants will not need to complete any
other visa forms. If you are applying for a K-1/2 fiance(e) visa, see Question 7 below.

7. I am applying for a K-1/2 fiance(e) visa. Which nonimmigrant visa application forms
do I fill out?
If you are applying for a K-1/2 visa, do not fill out Form DS-160. You must use the
paper nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-156, and Form DS-156K, the
Nonimmigrant Fiance(e) Visa Application. Form DS-156 is available at this link:  http:

. Once I have completed and submitted Form DS-160, will I need to bring a copy of
the form to my visa interview? Should I print out or save the filing confirmation that
appears after I have submitted the form?

You do not need to bring a copy of the entire form to the interview. However, after
you fill out and submit the form, make sure to save and print out a copy of the filing
confirmation. You must bring a copy of the confirmation to your appointment.

9. Have visa applicants experienced any problems with Form DS-160?
In our experience, most applicants are able to fill out and submit Form DS-160
without difficulty. In some cases, applicants have lost data because they did not save
their work while working on the form or because of a faulty internet connection, so
make sure to save frequently while using Form DS-160.

Visa applicants have occasionally reported that the DS-160 website has been slow or
has been temporarily inaccessible. Slowdowns at the website may increase as more
consulates begin to require the form or during busy periods at U.S. consulates, such
as around the holiday season or during the summer. Be sure to give yourself plenty
of time to complete Form DS-160 before your visa appointment.

10. I am applying for a nonimmigrant visa at a consulate that does not use Form DS-
160 yet.
Which forms do I need to fill out?
If you will be applying for a nonimmigrant visa before April 30 and the consulate
where you will apply does not yet use Form DS-160, you should plan to fill out the
interactive version of Form DS-156, from the following link: plus any other forms
required by the consulate

However, because more and more consulates are adding the DS-160 requirement
every day, you should check back with the consulate before your visa appointment in
case it has adopted the DS-160 form and will require you to use it.  
Cordell Hull
Foundation for
Fax:    646.349.3455

501 Fifth Avenue
Suite 300
New York, NY  10017