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A Beginner’s Guide to Completing the DS-160

Whether you're planning a vacation, studying, or working stateside, the DS-160 is one of the most important elements of your visa application. 

What is the DS-160 form?

The DS-160 is the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form used by anyone who’s applying for a U.S. visa. It is an electronic form that collects information about your background, purpose of travel, and other relevant details. We’ll walk you through the steps to completing the DS-160, hopefully making it easier for you to complete the first step in your visa journey.

Where can I find the DS-160 form?

The DS-160 form is available on the official website of the U.S. Department of State. You can access it through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) here.

How to Complete the DS-160

  1. Access the form.

You’ll first need a secure and reliable internet connection so you can visit the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. Create an account if you haven't already, and select "DS-160" from the list of available forms. Remember to save your application ID – you'll need it later.

  1. Fill out the personal information section.

The first section of the DS-160 is for your personal information. Make sure you’re providing accurate and honest information, and double-check to make sure things like your passport details and the spelling of your name match your travel documents. 

  1. Upload your photo.

Upload a photo taken in the last 6 months that meets the US visa photo requirements. This photo should be in color, have a white or off-white background, and show you directly facing the camera with your face in focus. You must have a neutral facial expression (sorry, no smiles here) and not be wearing any glasses. You can find the full requirements here.

  1. Share your travel itinerary and US contact(s).

Include your travel itinerary and let them know who you'll spend time with while visiting. It’s important to be as detailed and specific as possible here. You’ll also need to know the address of the place you’ll be staying when you first arrive. This can be a hotel, AirBnb, or friend’s place.

  1. Complete the security and background screening.

This part of the application includes questions about your personal history, travel history, and other factors that may be relevant to security concerns. They will vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, but common questions ask about previous travel to the U.S., criminal history, health history, employment and education, and family ties. 

  1. Review your details and submit.

Proofreading is essential here. Make sure that all of your details are correct and that you answered all the questions truthfully and accurately. You don’t want your application to get flagged for a typo. Once you’re all sorted, hit the submit button.

While the DS-160 is a pretty straightforward process, there are some important things to keep in mind while completing a DS-160 form.

Save your application regularly. There’s nothing worse than losing all the progress you’ve made just because you didn’t hit the save button. Plus, the DS-160 allows you to save your progress and return to the application later if you can’t do it all at once. Just remember that the information entered in the DS-160 form is only valid for 30 days. After that, you will need to start a new application.

Use a computer with a stable and secure internet connection. This form works best on a desktop computer rather than a smartphone or tablet. Make sure your internet connection is reliable so you don’t risk losing your progress (or worse, compromising your personal information).

Print the confirmation page. It contains important information and you’ll need it for your visa interview.

Have your information ready. This includes your passport, travel itinerary, contacts in the U.S., and any previous travel history. Make sure that the information you provide on the DS-160 form is accurate and aligns with your documentation.

Seek professional assistance if needed.  Completing the DS-160 form doesn’t have to be a headache. Take it step by step, and if you need any assistance, feel free to reach out to our immigration experts to help guide you through the process.