Last updated on October 3rd, 2017
Form DS-160, The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
To enter the US, temporarily or permanently, you will need to acquire a visa. The Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, is your first step in the visa application process. The information in this application along with your interview will be used to determine if you will be issued a visa.
What is a Nonimmigrant Visa?
Immigrant visas are requested for permanent stay in the U.S., whereas, nonimmigrant visas are requested for temporary stay and usually for people with a primary purpose such as school, work, or marriage.
People seeking entrance into the U.S. for marriage purposes should request a “K” visa. While K-1 and K-3 visas are both issued for immigrants intending to remain permanently in the United States, they are technically nonimmigrant visas.
K-1 visas are issued to fiancés looking to get married in the U.S. K-3 visas are issued to spouses of U.S. citizens for temporary stay during the immigrant visa application process. You can find more information about K-1 and K-3 visas here.
What is Form DS-160?
Form DS-160 is an online electronic form. The information provided in this form, along with your consular interview will be used to make a decision on whether or not you will be issued a visa.
After a U.S. citizen spouse successfully petitions for their immigrant fiancé, USCIS forwards the approved petition to the National Visa Center who coordinates the immigration effort with your local embassy. Form DS-160 is a middle step that provides the local embassy with the information they need to issue a K-1 (or K-3) Visa based on the approved petition.
The form can be found on the Consular Electronic Application Center’s website. The form must be filled out in English. If you need assistance filling out the form, you may have another person help you. That person will have to put their name on the last page but only you may click the signature section at the end of the form.
How Do I Complete the Form?
Accessing the Form
What Information Do I Need?
To complete the form, you must have some documents containing certain information ready such as your passport and resume. You should also have your schedule plans for entering the US along with any dates of recent visits to the US.
You will also need to attach a color photo of yourself. The photo will have to be digital so as to attach it to the electronic form. You may take the photo yourself or have a professional take the photo for you. The photo must have been taken within the last six months and be an adequate representation of your current appearance. There are specific requirements for how the picture must look and the format of the digital image.
The photo must be taken in front of a white background. In the photo, your eyes must be open and it must feature your full face from the shoulders up. Also, your face must take up most of the photo’s height. The image must be square with no less than 600 x 600 pixels and no more than 1200 x 1200 pixels. The image should also be in JPEG format and may not be more than 240 kilobytes.
Saving the Form
You or the person helping you do not have to finish the form all at once. As you go along filling out the application, it will automatically save after each page. When you begin the form, you will be given an application identification number. Be sure to make a note of this number because it will allow you to return to the form at the place where you left off.
An unfinished form will be saved on the website for up to 30 days. If you think it may be more than 30 days until you can finish filling out the form, then you will need to save the form to your computer.
If for any reason, you need to apply for another visa and must fill out another Form DS-160 then you may use your previous form to complete the new form. If you have saved your old form to your computer, you will be able to upload that to the website and use it to answer many of the questions. If you have not saved your previous forms, you can also retrieve a previously submitted application on the website and use that form.
I Finished the Form, Now What?
After you have finished the form, you will see a confirmation page with a barcode. You do not have to print the entire form but be sure to print out the confirmation page. You will need to bring that and your application ID number to your consular interview. If you lose your confirmation page, then you can access it again online and reprint it. Make sure you comply with any other procedures required by your local Embassy for the interview. Also, be aware that there may be additional fees associated with your application process.