DS-160 Form

Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

If you wish to apply for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, you have to apply online using the DS-160 form, regardless of the type of visa that you are applying for. Below you will find everything you need to know about the DS-160 form.

 

Expansion of the DS-160 questionnaire

The U.S. authorities have tightened the rules and regulations on the application procedure of U.S. visas. As it had been planned for a while, the U.S Department of State (DOS) now collects even more data from nonimmigrant visa applicants in the already very extensive online form DS-160. Recently new questions have been integrated into the DS-160 application form. 

What are the new questions?

The following new questions will have to be anwered throughout the application process:

  1. Queries regarding social media platforms and the according user names or aliases used by the applicant in the past 5 years, choosing from a drop-down menu with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among others.
    For example, applicants would have to specify here whether they use a Facebook account and with which profile name. Passwords, on the other hand, are not required. If available, applicants can also optionally specify other social media accounts.
  2. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses used by the applicant in the past 5 years.
  3. More detailed queries regarding international travels of the past 5 years.
  4. Queries pertaining to possible deportations or expulsions in the past from other countries (not US-specific).
  5. Queries on possible terrorist activities of family members in the past 5 years.
  6. Important for companies: Information on E Treaty Trader / Treaty Investor visas.
    Further information about the original applicant for E-registration must be provided here.

Particularly disputed are the queries pertaining to the applicants social media activities. Until now, only applicants who had traveled to countries controlled by terrorist organizations had to provide information on social media and e-mail accounts.

By the way, when applying for ESTA, giving any details on social media activity remains voluntary thus far. Whether that will change in the future remains to be determined.

In addition, as mentioned above, additional queries have been integrated into E visa applications, which consequently affect companies wishing to use Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor work visas for their employees. The difficulty for companies is in particular obtaining the requested information, as it is contained in application files that have not been needed for five years or longer.

Finally, further queries regarding possible medical examinations and FBI database information throughout the preparation of the DS-160 application form are being contemplated.

What exactly will change?

An estimated 15 million people are affected by this change, including both applicants for non-immigrant visas (DS-160) as well as immigrant visas (DS-260).

It is to be expected that the added workload will delay the application procedure, as for example checking social media accounts will take up a varying amount of extra time. As a result, longer waiting times for consular interview appointments as well as extended visa issuance processing times might apply.

Why the added queries?

According to U.S. authorities, the added questions are supposed to protect U.S. citizens, improve application verification processes and support legitimate travels to the United States.

The new queries had been open for public comments since March 2018, which is still available in the Federal Register ("60-day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Application for Nonimmigrant Visa").

DS-160 questions

The DS-160 form consists of numerous questions, with the application being divided into several sections, in which very different data is being collected.

The questionnaire in the DS-160 form is extensive, comprising about 15 to 20 pages. It is not a rigid form. Depending on the information provided, new sections with further questions might appear. Thusly the questions vary depending on

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Citizenship
  • Purpose of travel and
  • Visa category.

Please note: It is important to answer all questions correctly and truthfully, as misrepresentations can lead to delays in your application process, or worse – to the rejection of your visa application. Should you not remember exact dates, for example your last U.S. travels, provide the most accurate estimates possible. If any questions do not apply to you, click on "Does not apply".

The questions in the DS-160 form are divided into several sections:

Section Subject
Personal data Personal
Adress and Phone
Passport
Visa and travels Travel
Travel Companions
Previous U.S. Travel
Stay in the U.S. U.S. Contact
Family data Family
Job and Education Work / Education / Training
Security questions Security and Background


As previously stated, depending on the individual application, further questions might arise throughout the preparation of your online application form DS-160.

Read more Information about the DS-160 and its questions:

The first DS-160 questions are personal and request general information about the applicant as well as contact information and passport details, specifically the following:

  • First and last name (also maiden or artist name)
  • Gender
  • Date and place of birth
  • Marital status
  • Current and former citizenship/-s
  • Permanent residency in other countries
  • National identification number
  • If applicable: Social Security Number and U.S. Taxpayer ID Number
  • Personal address including phone number and e-mail address
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Passport details
  • If applicable: Details regarding lost or stolen passports

In this section, the DS-160 requests essential information about the U.S. visa applied for and the applicant's travel plans:

  • Which type or category of visa is being applied for?
  • Planned travel dates and duration of stay
  • Address in the United States
  • Travel expenses
  • Accompanying travelers, for example family members
  • Last 5 trips to the U.S.
  • Information regarding previously issued U.S. visas
  • Security questions pertaining to possible immigration violations in the past
  • Details regarding previously denied ESTA applications
  • If applicable: Information on previous immigrant petitions

In this section of the DS-160 you will find queries regarding a contact person in the United States, your relationship to this person and their address.

For example, if you are applying for a work visa, you would typically enter U.S. employer and a business contact in the U.S. For private travel, you would enter your hotel address and if you are planning to study in the U.S., you would enter the University you wish to attend.

Here you will be asked quite personal details regarding your family:

  • Name and date of birth of mother and father
  • In case your parents live in the U.S.: their residency status
  • Information on further relatives living in the U.S.
  • Name, date of birth, citizenship and address of spouse
  • If divorced: additional details regarding where and when the divorce was finalized

This section includes queries regarding current and former employment and attended educational institutions:

  • Current employment
  • Name and address of current employer or educational institution
  • Start date of employment, education or studies
  • For employees: gross monthly income
  • Information on previous employment in the past 5 years

Only certain applicants must provide the following details:

  • Attended educational institutions (not including elementary school): name, address, dates, type of educational institution and major
  • Language skills
  • Countries visited in the past 5 years
  • Information on military service and further security questions

Finally, a comprehensive "Yes/No" security questionnaire must be answered. It focuses on details of possible immigration violations, criminal records, serious (contagious) diseases and other security related issues like memberships in terrorist organisations.

In case the answer to one of these questions is "Yes", an explanation is prompted ("Explain"). Generally the affirmation of a security question leads at least to intensive inquiries at the consulate up to the refusal of your visa application even.

A template of the DS-160 application form is available for review and download on the website of the U.S. State Department.

What is the DS-160 form?

Starting March 1, 2010, all applicants for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, including toddlers and babies, must fill out this online application without exception. The DS-160 form must be submitted online along with a digital passport photo to the respective U.S. consulate before the personal interview appointment at the U.S. consulate.

The DS-160 form can only be found and completed on the official website of the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

Image of the DS 160

Part of the DS-160 form

Filling out the DS-160 form online

To begin with, ensure you have your passport and your address in the U.S. at hand. On average, applicants spend about 30 to 60 minutes per online application.

As a first step, before filling out the form you will be required to select the U.S. consulate, in which you would like to apply for your visa. In the German-speaking countries the options are:

Germany Austria Switzerland
Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich Vienna  Bern

 

  1. Click on "Start an Application", then you will be prompted to select and answer a security question. You will need this information, as well as the Application ID beginning with AA on the upper right corner of that page to review or change your application later by clicking on "Retrieve an Application", which is only possible before actually submitting your completed DS-160 form.
  2. Answer all questions truthfully and in English and finally upload your digital passport photo.
  3. Thoroughly review the information you provided.
  4. Submit your completed form DS-160 to the U.S. authorities.
  5. Save and print the confirmation page.

DS-160 support

Got questions about the DS-160 form or need help completing the form? We would be happy to support you on your way to obtaining your U.S. visa!

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DS-160 photo

At the end of the questionnaire, a digital, biometric passport picture the size of 5 x 5 cm must be uploaded online. The file, for example in jpg format, may not exceed 240 KB. Please note that wearing eye glasses in this photo is not permitted.

If your picture meets the requirements, a green check mark will appear. Otherwise you will need to make adjustments to your photo or choose another picture and retry. On the DS-160 application website, the U.S. Department of State also provides a "Photo Cropping Tool" for the preparation or adjustment of your photo and informs furthermore about the current visa image requirements.

Photo Tool of the U.S. authorities

Use the Department of State's photo tool for free

DS-160 confirmation page

Upon successful online submission of your DS-160 application form, you will receive your DS-160 confirmation page at the e-mail address you used in the application. In addition to your photo and a few personal details, this confirmation page also contains the respective visa category and the U.S. consulate, at which you will need to proceed with your visa application. Furthermore, you can find your DS-160 confirmation number (or Application ID) right underneath the barcode. You will need this number throughout the further application process.

Image of the DS-160

This is what a DS-160 confirmation page looks like

It is absolutely necessary to print this confirmation page. You must bring it to your consular interview, among other documents. You will not be admitted into the consular building without the DS-160 barcode confirmation page.

Please review the page to confirm all your information is correct, especially whether the U.S. consulate you chose in your DS-160 application matches the consulate, at which you will attend your interview and which will further process your application.

Should you wish to attend your interview at a different U.S. consulate than elected in the already submitted DS-160, for example, you will need to fill out a new DS-160 application and print out the new confirmation page as well.

DS-160 Instructions & Tips

Be sure to read our helpful notes before completing the DS-160 form.

DS-160 Session timed out

Due to frequent technical issues like page crashes or malfunctioning photo upload among others, we strongly advise you to save the DS-160 form regularly.

DS-160 Confirmation Number

Be sure to write down your DS-160 confirmation number (also: Barcode Number or Application ID) right away. It always begins with "AA00…". Using this code, you can log in again at a later time and complete or make changes to your DS-160.

Making changes in your DS-160

You can make changes to the information you provided in your existing DS-160 application form by logging in using your DS-160 confirmation number.

However, once you have submitted the form, no changes can be made. Should you wish to change any information, you would have to fill out a new DS-160 application and to print a new confirmation page.

Technical Issues with the DS-160

When experiencing technical issues while filling out your DS-160 application form, try using a different internet browser or simply try again at a later time. The U.S. authorities mostly solve technical issues promptly.

The technical problems can be very different in nature. In the past, it was not possible to upload digital passport photos at the end of data entry. This means that DS-160 cannot be transmitted to the consulate then. In some cases, the applicant is logged out of the system in the middle of the filling process, without this being desired.

Applicants who have technical problems filling out the DS-160 form will unfortunately have to be patient and try again at regular intervals to log into the DS-160 online application and continue.

Our tip: Always save the DS-160 online form regularly so that you can recall the data at a later time. This way, you don't have to start data entry again if you have technical problems.

Applicants should also note that technical problems may delay the appointment, as an appointment at the US Consulate is only possible after the DS-160 has been submitted online to the consulate.

We would be glad to assist you in applying for your U.S. visa and take care of the DS-160 form for you. Get in touch with us today for more information!

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