If you are in the process of applying for an immigrant visa to come to the United States, you may need to fill out a DS-260 at some point in your application. Simply put, the DS-260 is an online immigrant visa application. Applicants are completing this form because it is for the purpose of permanent residence inside the United States and is not on a temporary basis. While we have covered the process for obtaining a marriage green card while both partners are in the United States, the DS-260 is specific to spouses who reside outside of the United States and thus will have to go through consular processing.
How the Process Works
In order to better understand the DS-260 Form, let’s first understand the process in which a U.S. citizen will petition on behalf of their spouse who is residing in another country. Once the U.S. citizen files an I-130 petition and it is approved, the USCIS will send this information to the National Visa Center (NVC) who will then start processing your case immediately. The transfer from the USCIS to the NVC represents a transfer of power from the Department of Homeland Security to the State Department (hence the reason for consular processing).
Once the NVC gets in contact with you by sending you a welcoming email, you will know your case number and other critical information needed for the DS-260 Immigrant Visa application. For more information about consular processing, visit here. We also covered how to fill out DS-260 here.
Once you know all of the information needed for the DS-260, there are still just two quick steps that need to be addressed before one should go about filing:
- File your DS-261. If you’re searching online for help and can’t decide if you’re supposed to file your DS-261 or 260 first, understand this—the DS-261 is a basic and easy to fill out the form that tells the State Department how to communicate with you, and there is no fee to file. Make sure you fill out this one first so that your case is in order if something gets messy.
- Secondly, you’ll need to pay your fees for the State Department’s application processing fee as well as the financial support form fee. In total, this will come to $445 dollars. Expect for it to take up to a week for the NVC to process your payment.
Once you’ve taken care of these steps, it’s time to file your DS-260. In order to file this online application, you’ll need three things:
- Case number
- Beneficiary ID (the spouse is the beneficiary of the U.S. citizen petitioning on their behalf)
- Invoice number from the original welcome notice/email the NVC sent
Once the NVC has received your DS-260 and depending on your case, you will need to submit more paperwork to the agency. Typically marital applicants will also need to file an Affidavit of Support in addition to a Public Charge questionnaire.