All About a Form DS-160

If you’re applying for a temporary US visa or a K visa, you’ll need to fill out a Form DS-160. This document is the essential first step you take to make your petition official. This short guide walks you through everything you need to know to complete Form DS-160 without a hassle.

What the Form DS-160 is Used For

Nonimmigrant visas wishing to visit the US temporarily will complete a Form DS-160. This form initiates the process for your petition’s approval. Officially called the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 is completed electronically and used by the US embassy or consulate to determine whether to approve or deny your request.

Anyone who is not a US citizen but plans to visit the country on a temporary basis, whether for work, tourism, or marriage, must complete a Form DS-160. The only exception is a Canadian citizen applying for a TN visa. 

Even children must have their own DS-160, but anyone 16 or younger or unable to physically complete the form independently can be helped by a third party. This person must be identified at the end of the form in the designated area.

How to Complete Form DS-160

Since you must fill this out and file it online, it’s important to have all the paperwork and information you’ll need when you go to complete the form. You can save your progress and return to the application later if you are missing something, but it must be completed within 30 days.

For families, one family application fills in the details for every member. You can complete a DS-160 for yourself, then, at the end of the confirmation page, there’s an option to create the family application. Choosing this option saves you the repetitiveness of filling in certain details that apply to everyone.

What You’ll Need to Complete Form DS-160

Before completing this form, be sure to have your passport, travel itinerary, and national ID number from your home country. If you already have a US taxpayer ID and Social Security number, you’ll need those, as well. Any employment information for a work visa is necessary, as well as basic biographic information for each family member and employment history.

For those entering the US to study, include a copy of your SEVIS ID, found on the I-20 or DS-2019. Get the address of the school or university you’ll attend, and keep an I-129 near you if you’re working while in the country.

You’ll also need a photograph that meets the guidelines set by the US government. Have this photo saved on the computer you’ll be completing the form on so you can upload it easily.

Start Completing Form DS-160

The first thing you’ll do when you sit down to complete the form is to choose the location for your visa. This is where you’ll go for the embassy or consulate interview, but if you need to travel in the meantime, you can always change the location.

Then, you’ll see the Application ID, where you’ll answer a security question to be used later when you need to access your saved application. Keep the number and security answer safe.

The form is broken down into 12 parts, and we’ll go over each one in summary here:

  1. Personal Info: Here, you’ll include your name, date of birth, and other biographical info, such as your passport and identifying numbers.
  2. Travel Info: In this section, you’ll explain where you’d like to travel with your visa, when you would like to go, and what the intended purpose of your trip is.
  3. Travel Companions: Who are you planning to bring with you if your petition is approved? Include their names and identifying information here.
  4. Previous Travel to the US: Have you ever been to the US before? If so, you will need to list those dates and purposes in this section, as well as previous visa numbers or denials.
  5. Contact Info: Add your current address, email, and phone number here. Include any social media accounts you’ve had within the past five years. This requirement is new. Please note that USCIS officials are now required to check social media activity for all visa petitioners.
  6. Passport Info: List your passport book number or inventory control number if applicable. If you’ve had a passport lost or stolen, you’ll need to include that information.
  7. US Contact: Include someone who knows you in the US and can verify who you are. If you don’t know anyone yet, include the name of a business or company you intend to visit while you’re in the country.
  8. Relatives: Here, you’ll list basic information about your parents, and include any family members you have who are currently living in the US. Your spouse’s information goes here, as well.
  9. Work, Education, and Training: In this section, you’ll explain your occupation, educational background, and employment history. For the work history part, you must include jobs you’ve held over the past five years. You’ll also include your travel history, special skills you hold, military or professional organizations, and charities you’re a member of.
  10. Security and Background Info: You’ll be asked for a list of 25 security and background issues, to which you must respond with a “yes” or “no.” Be very cautious when completing this section, as any mistakes can result in a negative application.
  11. Applicant’s Photo: Upload the photo we mentioned earlier, ensuring it conforms to the US Department of State’s guidelines. You can adjust the size and crop the image after it is uploaded.
  12. Review, Confirm Location, Sign, and Submit: The last part is a review of everything you’ve done so far. Read this over carefully and look for potential mistakes you made. If everything is accurate, and the location for which you’re applying is correct, you’ll read the terms and conditions and submit the form. From there, access the confirmation page and print it. You’ll need this page to give to the consular officials during your scheduled interview.

You’ve now completed Form DS-160.

What’s Next?

After you file Form DS-160, it goes to the appropriate consulate or embassy for processing. You’ll need to check with them to schedule your visa interview, but before you go, call Visa2US and find out how to prepare for this important meeting.

Each step of the visa process is important, but you’ve made it this far and don’t want to make mistakes during your interview. The experts at Visa2US will streamline the next steps for you and maximize your chances of approval. Contact us today to see how we can help you take the stress out of your H-1B visa petition.


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