DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

What is a DS-160 Form?

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. The form collects information about the applicant’s background, travel plans, and contact information.

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)

Who Qualifies for DS-160 Visa?

The DS-160 is an application form for nonimmigrant visas, which are issued to individuals who plan to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose such as tourism, business, study, or work.

Some examples of individuals who may qualify for a nonimmigrant visa include:

  • Tourists who plan to visit the United States for pleasure or medical treatment
  • Business travelers who plan to attend meetings or conferences
  • Students who plan to attend school or university in the United States
  • Temporary workers who plan to work in the United States for a specific period of time

However, not everyone who applies for a nonimmigrant visa will qualify for one. Eligibility for a visa is determined by a consular officer during the visa interview and is based on U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Factors such as the applicant’s background, travel plans, and financial situation are taken into consideration.

How to Apply for DS-160 Form?

The process for applying for a DS-160 form is as follows:

  1. Go to the U.S. Department of State website and select the appropriate nonimmigrant visa category for your travel plans.
  2. Create a profile on the website by providing your personal information, including your name, address, and contact information.
  3. Complete the online application form by providing information about your background, travel plans, and financial situation. You will also be required to upload a digital photo of yourself that meets the visa photo requirements.
  4. Review and confirm the information you have provided on the form.
  5. Pay the application fee using a credit or debit card.
  6. Schedule an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  7. Print out the confirmation page with the barcode, and bring it to your visa interview, along with any required documents.

What is the DS-160 Form Interview Process?

The DS-160 form interview process is the final step in the nonimmigrant visa application process and is conducted by a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to verify the information provided on the DS-160 form and to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a visa. The interview process generally includes the following steps:

  1. Arrival: Arrive at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the scheduled interview date and time with all required documents, including the confirmation page of the DS-160 form with barcode, passport, photograph, and any supporting documents.

  2. Security check: Go through security screening, which may include metal detector and baggage scanning.

  3. Wait time: Wait for your turn for the interview.

  4. Interview: During the interview, the consular officer will ask you questions about your background, travel plans, and the information provided on the DS-160 form. They may also ask for additional documents or information. Be honest, direct and clear in your responses.

  5. Fingerprinting and Biometrics: You may be asked to provide fingerprints and other biometrics information.

  6. Decision: After the interview, the consular officer will review your application and make a decision on whether to approve or deny your visa.

  7. Passport return: If your visa is approved, the consular officer will keep your passport to put the visa in, and will return it to you in the following days or weeks. If the visa is denied, the officer will explain the reasons and what are the next steps.

What are the Required Documents for DS-160 Form?

The required documents for the DS-160 form will vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for and your individual circumstances. However, some general documents that may be required include:

  1. Passport: A valid passport that will not expire for at least six months beyond the date of your planned arrival in the United States.

  2. Confirmation page of the DS-160 form with barcode: This is the page generated at the end of the online application process.

  3. Photograph: A recent digital passport-style photograph that meets the visa photo requirements.

  4. Financial documents: Proof of financial support during your stay in the United States, such as bank statements, pay stubs, or a letter from your sponsor.

  5. Supporting documents: Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you may need to provide additional documents such as evidence of your ties to your home country, proof of your educational or professional qualifications, or a letter of invitation from a host in the United States.

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

What is the DS-160 Form Fee?

The DS-160 filing fee is a fee that is paid to the U.S. Department of State when submitting the online nonimmigrant visa application form. The fee varies depending on the type of visa being applied for. For example, as of September 2021, the fee for a B-2 tourist visa is $160, while the fee for an F-1 student visa is $200. Additionally, some countries may have a reciprocity fee which may vary depending on the nationality of the applicant. It’s best to check the current fee information on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for the visa.

What is the DS-160 Form Processing Time?

The processing time for the DS-160 form can vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying, and the volume of applications being processed.

Generally, nonimmigrant visa processing times are measured in days or weeks, however, depending on the type of visa and the Embassy or Consulate, it may take longer.

For example, as of September 2021, the U.S. Department of State estimates that B-2 tourist visa processing times are generally from 5 to 10 working days, while F-1 student visa processing times can take between 2 to 3 months.

DS-160 Form Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the DS-160 form:

  1. What is the DS-160 form?
    A: The DS-160 form is an online nonimmigrant visa application form used by the U.S. Department of State. It is used for a variety of nonimmigrant visa categories, including business, tourism, and student visas.
  2. Can I fill out the DS-160 form on behalf of someone else?
    A: No, the DS-160 form must be completed by the applicant. The applicant must have access to the computer and internet to fill out the form and must be able to read and write in English.
  3. Can I make changes to my DS-160 form after submitting it?
    A: No, once you submit the form, you will not be able to make changes to it. However, you can cancel the form and start a new one if you need to make changes.
  4. Do I need to take a printed copy of the DS-160 form to the interview?
    A: Yes, you need to take a printed copy of the DS-160 form confirmation page with barcode to the interview.
  5. Can I apply for multiple visa types using one DS-160 form?
    A: No, you need to fill out a separate DS-160 form for each type of visa you are applying for.
  6. How long is the DS-160 form valid for?
    A: The DS-160 form is only valid for one year from the date of submission.
  7. Can I apply for a visa using a DS-160 form if I don’t have a passport?
    A: No, you need a valid passport to apply for a visa using the DS-160 form. The passport must have at least 6 months of validity remaining beyond the date of your planned arrival in the United States.
  8. How much does it cost to file a DS-160 form?
    A: The fee for submitting the DS-160 form varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for. It’s best to check the current fee information on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for the visa.