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U.S. Visas

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Visa Information & Resources

DS-160: Frequently Asked Questions


Accessing the DS-160

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Where can I find the DS-160?

Access the DS-160 here, by clicking: Consular Electronic Application Center website.

You may wish to preview a sample DS-160 (5.9MB) before beginning.

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I am having problems accessing the DS-160.

We recommend that you use Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers to access the DS-160.


Completing the DS-160

Important Notice: Take care to answer all questions on the DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment.

Electronically submitting your DS-160 online application is only the first step in the visa application process. Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160 online application, you must contact the embassy or consulate at which you wish to apply to confirm whether you need to be interviewed by a consular officer, and to schedule an interview. You can find a list of U.S. embassies and consulates here, with links to their websites where you can find information about scheduling a visa interview appointment.  If the embassy or consulate at which you apply informs that you must have a visa interview, the visa application process cannot be completed until you appear for an interview with a consular officer.


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What documents do I need to have with me while I complete the DS-160?

You should have the following documents available while you complete your DS-160:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary, if you have already made travel arrangements.
  • Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years. 
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae - You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history. 
  • Other Information - Some applicants, depending on the intended purpose of travel, will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160.

Some applicants will need to have additional information and documents handy while completing the DS-160:

  • Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M): You will be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on your I-20 or DS-2019, so you should have this form available when completing your DS-160. You also will be asked to provide the address of the school/program at which 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 will be asked for information about your employer, including the employer’s address, while completing your DS-160.
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Can my answers be in my native language?

No. All answers must be in English, using English characters only, except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet. Applications submitted in any language other than English will be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

While you must answer all questions in English, translations of questions are available in many languages from the drop-down menu in the right upper corner of the application. These translations should assist you in completing the form in English.

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Are all questions on the DS-160 mandatory?

Most questions are mandatory and must be answered in the spaces provided. You may leave spaces blank when the questions are marked “optional.” You may answer a question with “Does Not Apply,” when that question does not apply to you; however, all other questions must be answered. The system will not allow you to submit an application with any mandatory questions left unanswered. If you do not complete a mandatory question, the system will display an error message and require you to answer the question before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply to your circumstances and/or purpose of travel, the system will not accept your application.

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Are additional forms required?

No. The online DS-160 application replaced the DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary. NOTE: In addition to the DS-160, Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa applicants also must complete an additional form (see the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants section below for more information). 

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What happens to my DS-160 if I select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I will be applying for my visa, but end up making an interview appointment instead at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

The Embassy or Consulate at which you actually apply should be able to access your form using the barcode on your DS-160 confirmation page, which you must bring to the visa interview. For example, a business traveler intends to apply for his visa at the U.S. Embassy in City X, so he selects City X as the location where he will submit his application when he completes his DS-160. He then has an urgent reason to travel to City Y on business. Because there is a U.S. Consulate in City Y, he schedules an appointment for a visa interview there, using the barcode from his completed DS-160 application for appointment scheduling. The U.S. Consulate in City Y is able to accept his DS-160 even though it lists the U.S. Embassy in City X as the location where he originally intended to submit his application.

Completing Specific DS-160 Questions

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How do I sign the DS-160 form?

You electronically sign your DS-160 by clicking the “Sign Application” button at the end of the form. Failure to sign may result in termination of the application. Your electronic signature certifies that you have read and understood the questions in the application and that your answers are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief. The submission of an application containing any false or misleading statements may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States. All declarations made in the application are unsworn declarations made under penalty of perjury.

Unless you are exempted from appearing in person, your fingerprints will be electronically scanned on the day of your interview. By providing your fingerprints, you will again certify that that you have answered all questions on the DS-160 truthfully and to the best of your knowledge, and that you will tell the truth during your visa interview. You will be directed to read the following statement prior to having your fingerprints scanned:

“By submitting my fingerprint, I am certifying under penalty of perjury that I have read and understood the questions in my visa application and that all statements that appear in my visa application have been made by me and are true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Furthermore, I certify under penalty of perjury that I will tell the truth during my interview and that all statements made by me during my interview will be complete to the best of my ability.”

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Can a third party complete the form on my behalf? Who is exempt from signing the form?

If an applicant is illiterate or unable to complete the application, the applicant must be assisted by a third party. The third party must be identified on the “Sign and Submit” page of the application. While the third party can assist the applicant in completing the application, he or she must instruct the applicant on how to endorse the application on his or her own behalf by clicking the “Sign Application” button.

If the applicant is under the age of 16 or physically incapable of completing an application, the applicant’s parents or guardian may complete and click the “Sign Application” button on his or her behalf. If the applicant has no parent or legal guardian, then the application may be completed by any person having legal custody of, or a legitimate interest in, the applicant.

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The DS-160 contains terms that I am not familiar with. Are these terms explained?

Explanations of the following terms contained in the online DS-160 form are available to you as help topics while you complete the DS-160 and are also provided below. 

Help: Surnames

Enter all surnames (or family names) exactly as they are written in your passport. If only one name is written in your passport, enter that as your “Surname.”

Help: Given Names

If your passport does not include a first or given name, please enter 'FNU' (meaning “first name unknown”) in the space for “Given Names.”

Help: Other Names

Other names used include your maiden name, religious name, professional name, or any other name by which you are or have been known.

Make sure to enter the other names you have used in full.  Thus, if you have only used another surname, enter it along with your usual given name. If you have only used another given name, enter it along with your usual surname.

Help: Telecode

Telecodes are four-digit code numbers that represent characters in some non-Roman alphabet names.

Help: Date of Birth

Enter as shown in your passport.

Help: Place of Birth

Please choose the name currently used for the place where you were born.

Help: Phone

You must provide a primary phone number. The primary phone number should be the phone number at which you are most likely to be reached; this could be a land line or a cellular/mobile number. If you have an additional land line or a cellular/mobile number please list that as your secondary phone number. 

Help: Identification Numbers

Your National ID Number is a unique number that your government may have provided. For example, the U.S. Government gives unique numbers to people looking to work or who pay taxes.

Help: Other Nationality

Enter all nationalities you currently hold and all nationalities you have previously held (including United States, if applicable), regardless of whether you have formally and/or legally relinquished the nationality. If the country where you previously held nationality no longer exists, choose the name of the country that is currently used for that location. (For example, if you used to be a citizen of the former East Germany, choose “Germany.”)

Help:  Permanent Resident

Permanent resident means any individual who has been legally granted by a country/region permission to live and work without time limitation in that country/region.

Help: Passport/Travel Document Number

Enter the number of the passport or travel document you will use to travel to the United States. This passport/document must still be valid, and must identify you and your nationality.

Help: Passport Book Number

The Passport Book Number is commonly called the inventory control number. You may or may not have a Passport Book Number on your passport. If you do, the location of the Passport Book Number on your passport may vary depending on the country that issued your passport. Please contact your passport issuing authority if you are unable to determine whether or not your passport contains a Passport Book Number.

Help: Expiration Date

In most cases your passport or travel document must be valid for at least six months after your arrival in the United States.

Help: Application Receipt/Petition Number

If you are applying for a petition-based visa, your application receipt/petition number was given to you by the Department of Homeland Security’s U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you filed your petition application at a USCIS Service Center. The application receipt/petition number is 13 characters long and the first three characters are letters.

Help: Previous Employer

Please enter information regarding your previous two employers only. Applicants may choose to bring along a separate written list of all previous employers to the visa interview for reference.

Saving Your DS-160 and Returning to a Partially Completed DS-160

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How can I save my application? Can I stop in the middle of the application and return to it later?

You can save your application or return to a partially completed application. When you begin a new DS-160, you will be issued a unique application identification (ID) number after selecting and answering a security question. Once you have your application ID number and have selected and answered a security question, you may exit the DS-160 application and return to it later. You must have your application ID to return to your application. To save your DS-160 to the Consular Electronic Application Center website, click the “Next” button at the bottom of each page you complete. You have 30 days to return to a partially completed application. To access your application after 30 days, you must save it to your computer hard drive or a disk, as explained in the FAQ below.

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How do I save my DS-160 application to my computer hard drive or a disk?

Saving to a hard drive or disk will allow you to access your application after 30 days. To permanently save your application to your computer hard drive or a disk, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete, you can click “Close” to return to the live application on our website. Note: Applications saved to the hard drive of a public or shared computer or memory device could likely be accessed by anyone else who uses the computer or device after you.

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I apply for U.S. visas often. Can I reuse the DS-160?

Yes, you can use information from a previously submitted DS-160 to populate some fields on a new form. There are two ways that you can do this. First, if you plan to apply for a visa in the future, save your DS-160 to your hard drive or a disk using the instructions in the FAQ above. When you go to apply for your new visa you can then select “Option B-Upload a Previously Saved Application” on the Getting Started page. Alternately, if your previous visa application was submitted after November 1, 2010, you can select “Option C-Retrieve Application,” enter your previous visa application ID, and then hit “Create a New Application.” Your personal information will then populate the form. Be careful to check that all previously submitted information is current and accurate.

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What if I lose my internet connection, the application “times out,” or I receive an error? Will my application be lost?
All information is automatically saved when each page is completed, so your application will not be lost. You will need to enter the application ID number, and answer other questions as prompted, to retrieve your application. Once your application has been retrieved, it will begin at the last page you completed. You will be able to edit previous pages, if needed.
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Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link not save?

In order for data changes made from the review page links to save, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser's back/forward buttons or the buttons along the side of the screen.

Uploading a Photo to Your DS-160

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I understand that I can upload a photo with my application. How do I get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application?

Please refer to the Photograph Requirements for detailed guidance.

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The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

That means that the photo upload failed. Therefore, you should submit one printed photograph meeting our requirements, along with the online DS-160 confirmation page, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you plan to apply for your visa. Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying for specific instructions on how to do this. See the print photo format found in the Photograph Requirements for more information. If the confirmation page includes a photo image, then the photo upload function was successful and no separate print photograph is required.

Correcting Answers on a Submitted DS-160

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The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I went for my visa interview denied my application because my DS-160 contained errors or was incomplete. What does this mean and what do I need to do next?

DS-160 applications submitted before April 1, 2010 cannot be reopened, and therefore, you must complete and submit a new DS-160.

The Embassy or Consulate should reopen your DS-160 submitted after April 1, 2010 if your application is denied for this reason and ask you to correct it, as explained below:

  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after November 1, 2010: Enter your application ID number and answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application. 
  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after April 1, 2010, but before November 1, 2010: Enter your barcode or confirmation number into the Application ID field and answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application.
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After I have corrected or completed my DS-160 application, do I need to schedule a new appointment or return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?
Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you applied for specific instructions.

DS-160 Confirmation Page

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Should I bring my entire application or just the confirmation page with me to the interview?

You are not required to bring your entire application. For your interview, you are required to bring your confirmation page with your application ID number on it so we can retrieve your DS-160. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, we may not be able to process your visa case.

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I submitted my online DS-160 application, but lost my confirmation page. Can I print a new one?

Yes, you can reprint the confirmation page of an application that has already been submitted. In order to do so, go into 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.

Family/Group Applications

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I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

Yes. When you select “Email Confirmation” on your Confirmation Page, you will be directed to a “Thank You” page. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you must create an individual application for each family member or for each individual within the group.

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If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system?

Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, you can alter that data before submitting the application.

Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants

 

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I am applying for a Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa. Do I need to fill out the DS-160 and the DS-156E?

It depends. If you are a Treaty Investor (E-2) applicant, you need only complete the DS-160. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee (E-1 or E-2), you must complete the DS-160, and you or your employer must complete the paper DS-156E form.