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21 Tips our US Visa Experts Wish You Knew

Ensuring Visa Success

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What is DS160?

The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for traveling to the United States.
You need to submit Form DS-160 to the Department of State website via the internet. The Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, along with a personal interview, they will assess your eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Why is DS 160 required?

The DS-160 form is required to get your non-immigrant visa for travelling to the United States of America. Each applicant including children must fill their own Form DS-160 visa application. The Form DS-160 needs to be completed and submitted online before your interview at the Embassy or Consulate. The barcode number on the Form DS-160 confirmation page is required to book your interview for visa application.

What is the DS 160 form used for?

Form DS-160 needs to be submitted to the Department of State website via the Internet. The Consular Officers generally use the information provided on the DS-160 form to process an applicant’s visa application, combined with a personal interview, to determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

What is the DS 160 number?

Each applicant must submit their own Form DS-160 to apply for non-immigrant visa to the United States. You need to complete the Form DS-160 and submit it prior to your interview at the Embassy or Consulate. The barcode number present on the Form DS-160 confirmation page is required to book your interview for visa application.

What kind of visas are there for the USA?

There are 185 different types of visas, the two main categories of US visas are as follows-

  • Nonimmigrant visa – This is generally applied for temporary visits such as for tourism, work, business, visiting family, or studying.
  • Immigrant visa – This visa is usually applied for people to immigrate to the United States. The immigrant visa holder is processed for a permanent resident card (I-551, also known as a ‘green card’). When endorsed (CBP admission stamp) this serves as temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for 1 year. A child with an IR-3 or IH-3 visa will automatically become a United States citizen upon admission to the United States and be processed for a certificate of citizenship (N-560).

Guidelines for Completing the Form DS-160

What are the documents required for the visa interview?

  • An applicant should have the following documents available while filling the DS-160 form:
  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary, if you have made travel arrangements.
  • Details of the last five visits to the United States, If the applicant has traveled to the United States. One may also be asked to provide the details of their international travel history for the last five years.
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae – The applicant can be asked to provide information about their current and previous education and work history.

Depending on the intended purpose of travel, an applicant can be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160 form.

  • Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M): You may be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on the I-20 or DS-2019 form, so ensure you have both of these forms available while you are completing your DS-160. You might also be asked to provide the address of the school/program that you intend to study. This information should also be on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
  • Petition-based Temporary Workers (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C): You should have a copy of your I-129 available when completing your DS-160.
  • Other Temporary Workers: You might also be asked for information about your employer, including the employer’s address while completing your DS-160.

How can I get the DS 160 form?

You can get access to the DS 160 form by clicking https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

How much does the DS 160 cost?

The applicant can submit Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and then proceed to follow the usual steps of fees payment, scheduling the interview, submitting supporting documents, and then finally attending the interview. The cost of non-petition based visas is 160.00 USD.

How can I pay the US visa fee?

The most convenient way of paying for your nonimmigrant visa application (NIV) fee is online with a debit card. Once you log into your profile and while you are on the payment screen, you can choose to pay using a debit card. After you pay the visa application fee, you need to print your receipt for your records.

Can I pay the DS160 fee online?

Yes, you can pay the DS 160 fee online with the help of a debit card.

How do I schedule an appointment for a US visa?

First, you should pay the visa application fee. You will have to complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form. After completing the form, you need to schedule your appointment on this web page. In order to schedule your appointment you need-

  • Your passport number
  • Your MRV fee payment receipt number
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

Visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, current passport, and all the old passports. Applications without these documents will not be accepted.

As an applicant for a U.S. visa, you are required to be present in person for an appointment at the Visa Application Center (VAC) and also the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is advised to schedule the VAC appointment at least one day before the interview appointment date.

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What is the processing time for a US visa?

Usually, the visa processing time takes seven to ten working days, but in some cases, the processing time may differ owing to individual circumstances and other special requirements.

How long in advance of my intended date of travel should I apply for a US visa?

It is always recommended that the application process should start about 3 months in advance from the intended date of travel since appointments are always 2-3 months in advance. Also, visa applications these days undergo a lot of scrutinies compared to the process followed in the past.

Often, applicants are informed to go through an additional screening process when they submit their applications and thus are advised to expect delays in the entire process. It is difficult to assume the time needed for individual cases, so we recommend to apply ample time before the intended travel date.

How long does it take for the US visa interview?

While applying for the US visa, there are 3 different timelines that you need to consider-

  1. Appointment – you need to take an appointment to appear for an interview and to provide your biometric information. This depends on the availability of the dates, you can’t control it.
  2. Application preparation – this is the stage when you have taken your appointment already and are collecting the required documents that validate/strengthens your case. You fill up the application form and prepare all other required documents, how much time you take depends completely on you.
  3. Consular interview & biometric – this can be divided into two steps- You need to provide your biometric information before you appear for the consular interview. It takes about 15 minutes to provide the biometric information. The waiting time could vary though as at times there are long queues for the biometric appointment.

The consular interview usually takes less than 10 minutes. You need to reach the center at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time.

Can I submit DS 160 twice?

The State Department did not provide a way to go back and change a DS-160 form that is already submitted. But you can always go back online to submit a new, corrected DS-160 form, print the new confirmation page, and bring it to your interview at the consulate or embassy.

How can I get my DS 160 confirmation page?

Visit the Consular Electronic Application Center website and select the Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. Click “Option C-Retrieve Application” option on the Getting Started page and then enter your application ID number. You will be able to view and print your confirmation page from there.

Each visa applicant including children must have their own Form DS-160 visa application. The Form DS-160 must be completed and submitted online before your interview at the Embassy or Consulate. The barcode number on the Form DS-160 confirmation page is required in order to book your interview.

ensure that the previously submitted form is correct an

Retrieve/Recover DS-160 Application Form

Can I see my DS 160 after submitting?

You cannot change the answers of a DS-160 form or cancel the submission of the form that is already submitted but you can always go back and reprint the confirmation page. You can also retrieve the information from a previously submitted DS-160 to populate some fields on a new form and submit a new DS-160 form with a different application number.

Can I print the DS 160 after submitting?

You need to visit the Consular Electronic Application Center website and select the Embassy or Consulate at which you are applying. Hit “Option C-Retrieve Application” on the Getting Started page and enter your application ID number. From there you will be able to view and print your confirmation page.

Can we edit DS 160 after submission?

The information present in the Form DS-160 cannot be usually changed or revised after you submit the form electronically. If you want to make a correction, you can retrieve the information included in the submitted forms in one of the two ways mentioned below-

  • If you have submitted the application within less than 30 days prior to the date of access, the applicant can log into the Consular Electronic Application Center system, then enter the application identification number, and finally select the option that says “Retrieve an Application.”
  • After prompted by the system, the applicant needs to create a new application. Some of the data from the old application will be populated to the new form, while you need to add the others manually. Edit the information required and re-submit the application.

How can I update my DS 160 form?

You cannot update your DS-160 form if it is submitted already. However, you can create a new application with a new DS-160 number.

  • Visit the Nonimmigrant Visa – Instructions Page to retrieve your existing application. The cash that has been already paid will not be refunded so you can edit using the same application number.
  • Once you visit the page, you will get the following information on the screen-
  • The DS-160 application you are attempting to retrieve has been submitted. Select an option below and click the “Continue” button.

*View Confirmation Page
*Create a New Application

  • You need to select the option: “Create a New Application” and then click “Continue”
  • You will be getting a new DS 160 application number which will be your new number for attending the interview.
  • Make necessary changes that you wish to make. While most of the details from the old form will be retrieved, you need to fill the other details manually, especially the security questions that you have at the end.
  • Once you have corrected the errors, you need to submit the new DS 160 form.
  • You will receive new U.S. DoS – CEAC Confirmation. Take a print out copy of the confirmation page.
  • The next step involves logging in to the website where you have taken an appointment for the biometrics and interview.
    You need to update your profile there with the new DS 160 application number.
    Submit

How can I retrieve my DS 160 application?

Information required to retrieve Your DS-160 form:

  • Application ID: When you are filling a DS-160 form, you will be given an Application ID. Please record your Application ID.
  • First five letters of your surname
  • Year of birth
  • The answers to the security question that you chose: When you are filling a DS-160 form, you need to select and answer a security question from a dropdown list. You cannot reset your security question. So, you must choose your security question responsibly and remember the answer. For your records, you can keep a record of the security question and answer that you choose.

Steps to retrieve:

  • Visit the link https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. Choose the location where you are applying for this visa, and enter the “Captcha” code given. Next, click on “Retrieve an Application.”
  • After providing the four important pieces of information, you need to click on “Retrieve Application” button

If you did not submit your application then-

Once you retrieve your application, it will start from the last page you completed. The information that you had entered previously will all be saved. If required you can also be able to edit the previous pages.

If your application has already been submitted then-

You can either create a new application or view the confirmation page. If you choose to view the confirmation page, the confirmation page of your previously submitted DS-160 form will be shown. You can reprint the confirmation page.
If you are choosing to create a new application, the information that you have already entered in the previous DS-160 form can populate the new form. Before submitting the new form

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