What is Form DS-260?
When individuals for an immigrant visa or diversity visa, they are required to fill out a DS-260 form, also known as Immigration Visa & Alien Registration Application (DS 260). Form DS-260 is an inquiry from the U.S. State Department and serves a similar purpose as G325A: Biographic Information Form, which is requested by USCIS. DS-260, however, is requested by the Department of State and requires additional personal information. In addition, DS-260 must be filed electronically after applicants receive a case number from the National Visa Center whereas G-325A must be filed along with the initial immigration petition. Both forms have no filing fee, but private immigration legal services may charge an additional fee for preparing the documents.
The form collects the following information:
- Personal Information (e.g., address, contact)
- Family Information
- Previous U.S. Travel
- Security & Background Information
- Work History
The approximately takes 2 hours to complete. However, you do not need to complete in one sitting. You may save the partial application on the website by clicking the “save” button. To see an example of application, visit U.S. Department of State website.
Who Needs to Complete Form DS260?
For those seeking to immigrate to the United States through a marriage visa from outside of the United States, you must fill out Form DS-260. The Department of State requires an application per person. For example, if you are a family of 4 consisting of a father, a mother, and two children immigrating to the United States through the same American citizen sponsor, a total of 4 applications must be filled out electronically.
The primary difference between DS-260 and G-325A is the location of the applicant at the time of the filing. If the applicant resides outside the U.S. at the time of he filing, she must complete DS-260 Form. If the applicant already resides in the U.S., she must fill out G-325A. For example, a female foreign student who married a U.S. citizen AND studying in the country through a student visa (F1) may file a G-325 along with I-130: Petition For Alien Relative, I-186: Affidavit of Support, I-485: Application To Register Permanent Residence Or Adjust Status in the initial package. Then, once she obtains a green card, she will start the process to attain a U.S. citizenship.
How Do I Complete Form DS260?
Applicants fill out the form online through Consular Electronic Applications Center (CEAC). Before you apply, you must ensure to 1) have internet access and 2) be Immigration or Diversity visa applicants.
For Diversity Visa Applicants, you must have the following documents:
- Diversity Visa Case Number
- Applicant’s Date of birth
For Immigrant Visa Applicants, you must have the following documents:
- NVC Case Number
- Invoice ID Number
To check if NVC case number and invoice ID number have been issues, applicants can visit the CEAC website to check the NVC Case Status.
Since the form takes approximately 2 hours to complete, applicants have the option to save progress on the application and fill out the form incrementally. When you log into the CEAC website, click the “Save” button located at the bottom of the page to save partially completed application. Applicants have the option to go back and make modifications until the final application is submitted. If an application observes no user interaction, the session will time out in 20 minutes. In this case, the applicant must log back into the CEAC to resume completing the form.
To access the saved and partially completed form, follow the steps below:
- Go to the CEAC website
- Click the “View/Edit” button on the IV and Alien Registration Summary Information page
- Verify the status of the application is displayed as “Incomplete”
- Click the “Edit” button to resume work on the application
Unlike other immigration forms that are offered in other languages, the online DS 260 form is only available in English. Failure to use English characters on the application may result in a rejection. Therefore, seeking an immigration legal professional may be a good route for non-English speakers who are not comfortable with the language.
What Happens After Submitting Form DS260?
Once you have submitted the form online, your application shall go into the queue. If the number of applications is high, wait time is likely to increase. Since the Department of State processes the DS 260 Form, applicants cannot use the USCIS website to estimate the processing time. In addition to the standard processing time, more complex applications may take longer. An example includes applications with extensive travel history to countries that may pose national security risks.
The U.S. State Department determines the risk factors based on the current climate of internal relations. If the security risks is high enough, applicants will be rejected due to grounds of inadmissibility. In order to reverse the decision, applicants must appeal to the State Department similar to the appeal process to the USCIS (I-601). To find out more, visit the U.S. Department of State website.
Please note that you cannot modify the DS-260 form once you submit. To access or modify the form, you will need to contact NVC (immigrant visa), KCC (diversity visa), or the U.S. embassy/consulate where you applied for the visa.
Once processed, you will receive an interview appointment package from an immigration officer. Please note you do not need a printed copy of DS-260 form for the interview as the immigration officer will have a copy of the application. However, applicants are recommended to save a personal copy to keep track of the immigration process.
What do I do if I Submitted DS260 to NVC Without Supporting Documents?
Applicants who submitted DS260 to the National Visa Center without required documents (e.g., financial statements), they must complete the following steps.
- Complete Affidavit of Support (I864)
- Gather proof of applicant’s financial situations (e.g., W-2)
- Gather proof of applicant’s civil documents (e.g., a copy of passport, a copy of birth certificate)
- File documents from above steps to NVC. To find instructions, visit the National Visa Center website.
Note the National Visa Center does not accept and process documents saved in electronic media format. Common examples include USB drive with documents and CDs.