The first step in obtaining your US visa is to file your DS-160 if you need to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate. The DS-160 is an application which can be completed online to allow you to temporarily travel to the US. Once submitted online, the DS-160 application, also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, is sent to the Department of state for processing.  Then you would be asked to pay interview fee and schedule your appointment on each consulate’s dedicated website.

1. Who should complete the form DS-160?

All Nonimmigrant Visa and K visa applicants looking to temporarily travel to or visit the US need to complete a DS-160 form. In order to schedule an interview for a US visa a DS-160 form must be completed. Prior to scheduling an interview an applicant should first contact the embassy or consulate to confirm whether an interview is needed.

It is important to note that those traveling to the US to get married and those traveling together as a family must complete each form individually.

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

Although the DS-160 Form can be submitted online it is not the easiest form to complete. The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is a very time consuming form to complete. When completing DS-160, it’s very important that the form is completed in its entirety as well as checked for accuracy. Being prepared and knowing what to expect when completing the DS-160 Form is essential to the success of receiving a visa. What makes the Nonimmigrant Visa Application so tedious to complete is not only the time it takes to complete the form, but the exhausting list of information that is required.  The form is available in many languages, however, a lot of the questions’ answers get many times lost in translation and that’s why filling it out in English is more beneficial. You also need to save your answers very often.  As soon as you answer a questions, make sure to save the form, otherwise you may lose your answers.  Anytime you answer yes to a question, it brings more questions and information to add to your application; however, leaving a question unanswered or answer it incorrectly, would lead to charges of fraud and/or denial of any future visas and immigration benefits to the United States.

The basic information needed to complete form DS-160 include:

  • Passport information, along with any prior US visas
  • Addresses and travel itinerary. Travel information should include flight and ticket information, address and location in which you will be staying. In addition to dates and duration of travel.
  • S. Drivers License and point of contact person in the U.S.. Contact information should include full name, phone number, email address, and mailing address.
  • Full name of both mother and father along with the3ir date of birth.
  • Resume of all past and current work-related information. Work related information should include company name and address, monthly salary, as well as job description. In addition to work experience for the past 5 years.
  • Education information, dates attended, names of institutions, and addresses.
  • If applying for work visa, information about employer or investment company in the United States would also be required.

When completing Form DS-160 be sure to print your full application before submission as it would be very important to have that information for any future applications filed.  You do not want to have any discrepancies or forget to mention a trip you already reported on a previous DS-160.  Also print or save the confirmation page of your submitted DS-160 as you would need to show that page when you are going to the U.S. consulate or embassy for your interview. This barcode on your confirmation page is used and needed when scheduling your interview for a visa and for entry to the consulate.

3. Can a third party complete the Form DS-160 for me?

When completing the form DS-160, should an applicant need assistance, a third party may assist as long as they are identified on the “Sign and Submit” page of the application. An example of when a third party may be used is if an applicant is illiterate and needs assistance with completing the form.  Also, your attorney can assist in filling out your DS-160 application as long as you are the one submitting the form at the end yourself.  Although it is ok for the third party to assist in completing the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, it is the responsibility of the applicant to endorse the application on his or her own behalf by clicking the “Submit Application” button.

In the case of a minor under the age of 16, the applicant’s parent or guardian may assist in completing the application on behalf of the minor by clicking the “Sign Application” button. The same holds true for applicants who are physically incapable of completing the application on their own.

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

Yes and no.  You cannot reuse the same application you already submitted since once submitted, the application cannot be modified or changed.  And you would need to add new information to your next DS-160 including but not limited to dates of travel etc.  In order to save yourself some time, you should save a copy of your previously filed application on your computer or print/save pages of your DS-160 in a PDF format.

When you are able to save your application on your computer, you would be able to use previously submitted information to populate fields within the new DS-160 form. The best way to do this is by first saving your information to your computer’s hard drive. After saving the information to your hard drive once you are ready to submit your new application simply select “Option B – Upload a Previously Saved Application” on the Getting Started page. When using previously submitted information be sure to check all populated information for accuracy.

If you could not save the application on your hard drive but were able to print or save your previously submitted application as a PDF, you can look at the information you previously submitted and retype it into the respective fields.

5. How much does the DS-160 cost? 

There is no fee associated with filling out the DS-160 form. However, there will be a cost accrued only when applying for a visa. On average the cost associated with a DS-160 started at $160 for non-petition based nonimmigrant visas. This fee may be paid online using a debit or credit card. Or can be paid in person at a US Embassy or Consulate. Those applying for a petition based visa will incur a fee of $190 or more.

6. How long is the DS-160 valid?

Generally a DS-160 form is valid as long as the information provided is accurate and up to date. However, the confirmation number used to schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate is only valid for one year.

7. How long does it take to process the DS-160? 

Once the DS-160 form is completed and submitted online it is then sent to the Department of state via their website. This will generate a confirmation which is needed to schedule your interview. Be sure to write down or print your confirmation number. This number is very important and is needed to schedule your visa interview.

The form will take about an hour to complete depending on how prepared you are. The information provided is then used by the Consular officer for processing. If filled out accurately with no errors the processing time for the DS-160 can be minimal. Avoiding errors helps to reduce time needed to process the form and can prevent any delays.

Taking into account each of these 7 items when completing your DS-160 will lessen your chances of being denied and delaying your application. Completing the Nonimmigrant Visa application is very time consuming and tedious; however with the proper guidance it can be done in a smooth timely manner.


If you are an applicant needing assistance with completing your DS-160 it is recommended that you contact an expert immigration attorney to walk you through the process. Contact MC Law Group at (702) 258-1093.