How to Fill Out Form DS-160

How to Fill Out Form DS-160

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Last updated: April 9, 2024.

Form DS-160, also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, is a crucial step in the process of applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, including the J-1 visa. This form collects information about your travel plans, personal information, and background, which helps the U.S. government assess your eligibility for the visa. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fill out Form DS-160:

  1. Access the Form: Go to the U.S. Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website to access the DS-160 form: https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/
  2. Select Location: Choose the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying for your visa.
  3. Create an Application: Click on “Start an Application.” You will be assigned a unique application ID, which you should save for future reference.
  4. Complete the Form:
    • Personal Information: Fill in your personal details, including your full name, date of birth, nationality, and contact information.
    • Passport: Enter your passport information, including the passport number, issue and expiration dates, and the country that issued the passport.
    • Travel Information: Provide details about your travel plans, including your intended date of arrival in the U.S., the intended length of stay, and the address where you will stay in the U.S.
    • Travel Companions: Indicate if you will be traveling with any family members or companions.
    • Previous U.S. Travel: Provide information about any previous trips to the U.S., including the dates and purpose of travel.
    • Family Information: Provide information about your family members, including their names, dates of birth, and relationships to you.
    • Work and Education: Include details about your education, employment history, and current occupation.
    • Security and Background: Answer security-related questions, including questions about your criminal history and any previous visa denials.
    • Photograph Upload: Upload a passport-style photo that meets the specified requirements.
    • Review and Sign: Carefully review all the information you’ve entered and make any necessary corrections. Then electronically sign the form.
  5. Retrieve Confirmation: After completing the form, you will receive a confirmation page with a barcode. Print this page or save it electronically, as you will need it for your visa interview.
  6. Pay the Application Fee: The next step is to pay the nonrefundable visa application fee. The fee varies based on the type of visa you are applying for
  7. Schedule Visa Interview: After paying the fee, you can schedule your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. You will need the application ID from the confirmation page to schedule your interview.

Remember that the information provided in Form DS-160 should be accurate and truthful. Inaccurate or misleading information can lead to visa denials or other immigration consequences. Additionally, it’s recommended to complete the form well in advance of your intended travel date to allow time for processing.

Before starting the form, review the specific guidelines provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying, as there may be additional instructions or requirements specific to that location. If you are unsure about any part of the process, consider seeking assistance from an immigration attorney or your designated J-1 program sponsor.

Form DS-160 filing fee

The filing fee for Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, is not a separate fee that you pay for completing the form itself. Instead, the fees associated with the visa application process generally include the visa application fee (also known as the MRV fee) and, in some cases, additional fees related to specific visa categories.

The visa application fee varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for and your country of residence. It’s important to note that the fee is nonrefundable, even if your visa application is denied.

Below you will find the current nonimmigrant visa application filing fees:

  • B-1/B-2 – tourist or business visa: $185.00
  • C-1 – Transiting the United States: $185.00
  • D – Crewmembers – Airline, Ship: $185.00
  • F – Student, Academic: $185.00
  • I – Media and Journalists: $185.00
  • J – Exchange Visitors: $185.00
  • M – Vocational Students: $185.00
  • TN/TD – NAFTA Professionals: $185.00
  • S – Witness or Informant: $185.00
  • T – Victim of Trafficking in Persons: $185.00
  • U – Victim of Criminal Activity: $185.00
  • H – Temporary Workers/Employment or Trainees: $205.00
  • L – Intracompany Transferees: $205.00
  • O – Persons with Extraordinary Ability: $205.00
  • P – Athletes. Artists & Entertainers: $205.00
  • Q – International Cultural Exchange: $205.00
  • R – Religious Worker: $205.00
  • E -Treaty Trader/Investor, Australian Professional: $315.00
  • K – Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. citizen category visa: $265.00

The current nonimmigrant visa fees can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

Here are a few key points to consider regarding the visa application fee:

  • Varied Fees: Different visa categories may have different fees. For example, the visa application fee for a tourist (B-1/B-2) visa may differ from the fee for a student (F-1) visa.
  • Country of Residence: The fee may also vary based on your country of residence. The U.S. Department of State provides a list of visa application fees based on country, which you can find on their official website.
  • Payment Method: The visa application fee is typically paid electronically through various methods, such as online payment, mobile payment, or cash payment at designated locations. Specific payment instructions will be provided on the U.S. embassy or consulate’s website.
  • Validity Period: The visa application fee receipt is valid for one year from the date of payment. This means that you must schedule your visa interview within one year of paying the fee.
  • Fee Waivers: In some cases, certain individuals may be eligible for fee waivers. Eligibility criteria for fee waivers can vary, so you should check with the U.S. embassy or consulate for more information.

It’s important to verify the current visa application fees, payment methods, and any updates on the official U.S. Department of State website or the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa. Fees can change over time, and it’s crucial to have accurate and up-to-date information before making any payments.

Form DS-160 checklist of required documents

When filling out Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, you will need to provide various types of information and details about your travel plans, personal history, and other relevant factors. While Form DS-160 does not require physical document submissions, it’s a good idea to have certain information and documents readily available to ensure accurate and complete completion of the form. Here’s a checklist of the types of information and documents you might need:

Passport Information:

    • Passport number
    • Passport issue date and expiration date
    • Passport country of issuance

Travel Information:

    • Proposed U.S. travel dates
    • Address where you will stay in the U.S.
    • Details about your intended activities in the U.S.

Contact Information:

    • Email address
    • Phone number

Personal Information:

    • Full name (as it appears in your passport)
    • Date of birth
    • Gender
    • Nationality

Family Information:

    • Full names of your immediate family members (spouse and children)
    • Dates of birth of family members

Employment and Education History:

    • Current occupation
    • Name and address of your employer
    • Brief description of your job responsibilities
    • Education history, including schools attended and degrees obtained

Security and Background Information:

    • Information about any criminal history or previous visa denials
    • Address history for the past five years

Photograph:

    • A digital passport-style photograph that meets the specific requirements (size, background color, etc.). You will upload this photo during the form completion process.

DS-160 Application ID:

    • The unique application ID generated when you start the DS-160 form. You’ll need this ID to retrieve and access your application later.

Visa Application Fee Receipt:

    • The receipt of payment for the visa application fee (MRV fee).

Additional Documents (If Applicable):

    • Depending on your visa category, you might need additional documents. For example, students may need to provide an I-20 form, exchange visitors might need a DS-2019 form, and so on.

Remember that while you don’t need to physically submit documents with the DS-160 form, having the necessary information and documents ready will help you accurately complete the form. After submitting the DS-160, you will receive a confirmation page with a barcode. Make sure to print or save this page, as you’ll need it for your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Additionally, review the specific guidelines provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where you’ll be applying for your visa to ensure you have all the necessary information.

What happens after Form DS-160 is filed?

After you have successfully completed and submitted Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, there are several steps that follow as part of the U.S. nonimmigrant visa application process. Here’s what typically happens after Form DS-160 is filed:

  • Visa Fee Payment: Before you can schedule a visa interview appointment, you need to pay the visa application fee (also known as the MRV fee). The payment receipt will be required for scheduling the interview.
  • Visa Interview Appointment: Using the confirmation page with the barcode from your DS-160 submission and the visa fee payment receipt, you can schedule a visa interview appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying for the visa. The visa interview is a crucial step where a consular officer will assess your eligibility for the visa.
  • Gather Supporting Documents: Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you may need to gather additional supporting documents. These could include your passport, photograph, visa fee payment receipt, DS-160 confirmation page, financial documentation, invitation letters, educational transcripts, and any other documents relevant to your visa category.
  • Attend the Visa Interview: On the day of your scheduled visa interview, arrive at the U.S. embassy or consulate with all the required documents. During the interview, a consular officer will ask you questions about your travel plans, background, and purpose of the visit. The officer will use this information to determine whether to approve your visa.
  • Security Checks and Administrative Processing: In some cases, additional security checks or administrative processing might be required. This can delay the visa issuance process, and you might be asked to provide more information or documents.
  • Visa Approval or Denial: Following the interview, the consular officer will make a decision on your visa application. If approved, they will provide instructions on how to collect your visa. If denied, you will receive a written explanation of the denial.
  • Travel to the U.S.: If your visa is approved, you can travel to the U.S. within the validity period of the visa. At the port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will determine whether you are admissible to the U.S. for your intended purpose.

It’s important to note that the process can vary based on the U.S. embassy or consulate, the type of visa you are applying for, and individual circumstances. Additionally, visa processing times can fluctuate, and it’s recommended to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Before and after submitting Form DS-160, it’s crucial to follow the specific guidelines and instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying for the visa. This will help ensure a smooth visa application process and maximize your chances of success.

How to prepare for my nonimmigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate?

Preparing for a nonimmigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is an important step to increase your chances of a successful visa application. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you are well-prepared:

Step 1. Review the Interview Requirements: Visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be having the interview. They often provide detailed information about interview procedures, required documents, and any specific instructions.

Step 2. Gather Required Documents:

  • Passport: Your valid passport.
  • Visa Appointment Confirmation: Print the appointment confirmation letter.
  • DS-160 Confirmation Page: Print the confirmation page with the barcode from your DS-160 application.
  • Visa Application Fee Payment Receipt: The receipt of payment for the visa application fee (MRV fee).
  • Photograph: Carry a copy of the photograph uploaded during your DS-160 application.
  • Supporting Documents: Depending on your visa category, gather any additional documents such as I-20 (for students), DS-2019 (for exchange visitors), invitation letters, employment verification letters, etc.

General recommendations:

Dress Appropriately: Wear business attire or clothing that shows respect for the interview process. Avoid wearing overly casual or provocative clothing.

Be Punctual: Arrive early for your interview appointment to allow time for security checks and registration.

Be Honest: Consular officers appreciate honesty. Answer all questions truthfully and avoid providing incomplete or inaccurate information.

Practice Your Answers: Be prepared to explain the purpose of your trip, your intended activities in the U.S., how you plan to support yourself financially during your stay, and your ties to your home country that would encourage your return.

Know Your Program/Plans: Familiarize yourself with the details of your program, course of study, employment, or other activities you plan to engage in while in the U.S.

Be Confident and Courteous: Maintain a respectful and confident demeanor during the interview. Use polite language and make eye contact with the consular officer.

Understand the Visa Officer’s Role: The consular officer’s role is to determine whether you qualify for the visa based on U.S. immigration law. Be ready to answer their questions and provide any necessary documents.

Stay Calm: It’s natural to feel nervous, but try to remain calm and composed during the interview.

Bring Translations: If any of your documents are not in English, bring official translations.

Additional Documentation: If you have any documents that you believe could strengthen your case (proof of financial stability, ties to your home country, etc.), bring them with you.

Prepare for Possible Questions: While the questions can vary based on your circumstances, you might be asked about your ties to your home country, how you plan to fund your trip, your educational background, and your intended activities in the U.S.

Pay Attention to Security: Follow all security protocols at the Embassy/Consulate, including restrictions on electronic devices and other prohibited items.

Remember that the goal of the interview is to establish that you are a genuine visitor who intends to comply with the terms of the visa and return to your home country after your visit. Being well-prepared and confident can significantly contribute to a positive outcome.

Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application