Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

Form DS-160

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How to check the visa appointment wait times

You can find estimated wait times for visa appointments and processing times on the US Department of State website at


U.S. embassies are instructed to publish visa appointment wait times on a weekly basis, and the data provided is usually up-to-date.


U.S. embassies which issue Nonimmigrant Visas (NIVs) require appointments for the initial interview to obtain the visa.


Many embassies will allow the renewal of visas in the same category without an interview if the prior visa has not expired beyond a certain amount of time.


Expedited interviews can be offered when there is an urgent situation, although what constitutes an emergency situation can be different from one embassy to another.


All Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) applications worldwide must be filled out using the online Form DS-160. This form must be submitted electronically through the Consular Electronic Application Center found at


To fill out the online questionnaire, each visa applicant must fill out the required fields online or select from the drop-down menus, progressing through the form page by page. In some cases, a digital photo needs to be uploaded as well.


Once the DS-160 has been filled out, the applicant must digitally sign and submit it by clicking the “Sign and Submit Application” button.


The applicant must print out and bring the DS-160 barcode confirmation page, which was generated after submitting the DS-160, to their visa interview


The information needed on the form for educational background and prior employment history can differ depending on the applicant’s age, gender, and country of origin. 


As a tip, DS-160 forms that are created but not submitted within 30 days can expire, meaning that the applicant will have to make a new form.


To prevent the DS-160 application from expiring and to give more time to submit it, you must submit the application before 30 days pass. 


In certain scenarios when an appointment is needed urgently, one may use the DS-160 Application ID Number of an incomplete DS-160 application to book the appointment, and then submit the application later. It is essential that the DS-160 form does not get expired prior to submission. It should be noted that the DS-160 form is not created to include crucial extra details, which is often essential for an informed decision by the consulate.


Prior to submitting the DS-160, it is important for the client to make sure that they save copies of both the draft and the final version. Counsel should then review the application carefully and make corrections to any errors. Very rarely will a client submit a visa application without mistakes. As a reminder, the free form sections of the DS-160 should be used to provide information that could be helpful to the adjudication process.


Consular officers usually do not accept documents given to them by an attorney, such as cover letters, so it is important that all the needed information is correctly filled in the DS-160 form. For instance, clients may just mention that they are retired, but they may have business interests or civic roles that will demonstrate a stronger connection to their home country. Therefore, this needs to be included in the form as well. After that, the applicant or their lawyer must pay the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee, either online or at a bank in the country of application. However, if the applicant is in the US, this can be more complicated.


Once the payment is made, the counsel or applicant must book an appointment at the chosen consular post following specific instructions. NIVs are now managed through either of two websites: or The individual must bring the confirmation of the consular appointment and the receipt for the visa fee to the interview. Additionally, students and exchange visitors must pay the SEVIS fee before the interview.


In addition to the MRV fee, there may be a visa issuance fee based on the reciprocal agreement between the United States and the applicant’s country of nationality, which must be paid when the visa is approved at the consulate. Certain H and L visa applicants may incur a fee of up to $4,500. If there are errors on the DS-160 application, they can be corrected before the interview by going to and selecting “Retrieve an Application” from the list of options. The login information from the original application must be provided. When the application is retrieved, most answers will be the same as they were before. The employment dates and answers to the security questions, however, will not re-populate.


Once a DS-160 application is submitted, the counselor can make changes and submit a revised application. It is important that the client brings both the old and new confirmation pages to their interview. The original DS-160 form will remain in the system.


Practice Tips for a Successful Visa Application


When attending a visa interview, a short and polite letter to the Consul at the post explaining any issues in the application, such as interactions with the criminal justice system, prior overstays and other aberrations will help ensure an informed consular decision. Additionally, providing a bulleted summary of the case for the applicant to present at the interview will be appreciated by the consular officer, although few attorneys take the time to do this. For more complicated cases, the executive summary should be accompanied by a detailed history of the case with indexed and tabbed exhibits. Visa interviews usually do not last more than a few minutes, and the consular officer has usually already made a decision before the client is called to the window. Therefore, it is recommend that clients bring the necessary documents to the interview.


Attorneys should make sure their client has all the required documents to prove their eligibility for a visa, such as a copy of the petition filing and USCIS approval notice for employment cases, proof of prior immigration history (such as previous petition approvals, I-20s, and DS-2019s), transcripts and degrees, W-2 forms, paystubs from the current year, all passports with U.S. visas, professional and academic credentials, and a current résumé. Evidence must also be provided to prove that the client will not become a public charge. For B-1/B-2 visa cases, clients must bring evidence of compliance with prior U.S. visas, proof of financial support while visiting the U.S., and a major credit card. American Express cards are preferred because their credit limit is usually not as low as other cards.


Making a good first impression is essential during a visa interview, which usually only lasts one to two minutes. During this time, the consular officer will be looking at data on their computer screen and very few words are exchanged. It is important to dress appropriately for the interview, as the consular officer will form their opinion quickly. For those applying for student visas to attend a reputable US university such as Harvard, they should wear university blazon. Those applying for managerial, professional, or business visas should dress in a way that supports their U.S. government interview. This is the conclusion of hours, weeks, or even months of counsel’s familiarity with the client’s history and motives.


Before a client interviews with a consular officer, their attorney should conduct a mock interview with them over video conference. This will make the client better prepared for the actual interview and help them to remain calm and composed, something which attorneys often refer to as the “consular terrors.” It is beneficial if the client can speak fluently and confidently about the details of their case, rather than having to search through papers to familiarize themselves with the information.


It is important to manage clients well during visa interviews, as consular officers often do not review documents that the client brings, aside from I-20s for student visas, DS-2019s for J visas, and I-797 petition approval notices. Clients may be frustrated that they paid an attorney to prepare paperwork to prove their eligibility and the consular officer refused to look at it. In today’s world, the consular officer is usually more interested in the information in the database than in any other documents. Therefore, it is essential to include important information in any open fields on the DS-160 form.