DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

What is Form DS 160?

The Nonimmigration Visa Application is for temporary visitors to the U.S. or for individuals who are intending to marry a U.S. Citizen. Along with results from the interview, Form DS-160 is used by the consular office to determine if an individual is eligible for a nonimmigrant visa. When filling out the form, make sure you fill out every single space that is not marked “optional”. You may enter “Does Not Apply” if a question does not apply to you but any blank spaces will warrant the application unacceptable. Find Form DS 160 at the CEAC, or Consular Electronic Application Center by visiting their site here.

Because the information is sent directly to the Department the online system is more secure. Your DS-160 form will be received by the Department of State as soon as you submit it so there is an obvious time-saving as well. Make sure to read over the completed form before you submit it. It is important that the information you supply here is correct and accurate. The information that you submit is stored on the department’s database automatically. This eliminates the need for staff to manually type in the information by hand and not only does this save time it also frees up staff to do the tasks that cannot be automated such as conducting interviews.

When filling out Form DS-160, you should reference the following information:

  • Passport
  • Travel Information
  • Travel History to the U.S. and other countries including dates of travel
  • Resume
  • Other Visa Specific Documents:
    • I-20 (Students/Exchange Visitors)
    • DS 2019 (Students/ Exchange Visitors)
    • I-129 (Temporary worker visas)

What happens after I submit Form DS 160 online?

Your application will be considered based on the information you provided on your DS-160 application as well as at your interview. Your interview will take place at the location you chose to submit your application to in step one of the DS-160 application.

Once you have submitted Form DS-160, you must contact a U.S. consulate or embassy where you intend to apply for the nonimmigrant visa to inquire whether you’ll need to interview with an officer. Then, you should schedule an interview with the consulate/embassy.

Bring a printed bar code page from the complete DS 160 form so that the consular officer can reference your application ID number during the interview and pay the appropriate visa application processing fee which is country-specific. Ask the U.S. consulate or embassy for this fee amount.

How to fill out the form?

DS-160 is an online form and it greatly streamlines the earlier system. The form is available from the Department of State’s website and I will provide a link below. This form is also used for K visas or Fiancé visas.

There is no need to feel intimidated if you’re not used to filling in online forms and in fact, you will probably find it easier to fill out an online form than a paper form. Online forms provide you the opportunity to correct errors before you submit them. This is of course not possible on a paper form and you would have had to start over with a new form. Another advantage of the online form is that you don’t have to travel to your local consular office or embassy to obtain it. It is effectively available to you right here on your computer. The form is easy to fill in and there is an online help facility as well. Most people find that it’s not necessary to use an intermediary but if you’re not used to filling in online forms you may feel more comfortable if you ask the assistance of a friend or family member.

Guidance on Completing DS-160 Form

Do keep in mind that the application will time out after twenty minutes. But you can save the application to your PC by clicking the Save application button and then Save Application To File. Then you can continue filling out the application. Continue to do this throughout the application. Always make sure that you have saved your application before you enter another session. The application form is several pages long, but there is a Save button at the bottom of each page. You should always save before you move to the next page. When you have completed your application you will be given an opportunity to review it and make any changes necessary. Then you can click the Sign and Submit button. You can also use the Upload A Previous Application button to upload an application you saved to your PC.

During the application, you should have all your documentation to hand as you will be required to provide passport and previous visa information where applicable. If you have family living in the United States you will need to provide their details as well. You will also need to submit a photograph and instructions are provided in the information section of the DS-160 form. 

Visas that require Form DS-160

Please reference the below chart for your specific visa type to check if you’ll need Form DS 160.

Purpose of Travel Visa Category
Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only) B-1
Au pair (exchange visitor) J
Australian professional specialty E-3
Border Crossing Card: Mexico BCC
Business visitor B-1
CNMI-only transitional worker CW-1
Crewmember D
Diplomat or foreign government official A
Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer B-1
Employee of a designated international organization or NATO   G1-G5, NATO
Exchange visitor J
Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States A-2
Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics O
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional: H-1B1 – Chile
Chile, Singapore H-1B1 – Singapore
International cultural exchange visitor Q
Intra-company transferee L
Medical treatment patient B-2
Media, journalist I
NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada TN/TD
Performing athlete, artist, entertainer P
Physician J , H-1B
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor) J
Religious worker R
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge H-1B
Student: academic, vocational F, M
Temporary agricultural worker H-2A
Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature. H-2B
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor B-2
Training in a program not primarily for employment H-3
Treaty trader/treaty investor E
Transiting the United States C
Victim of Criminal Activity U
Victim of Human Trafficking T
Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) V