DS 160 for H4 Visa: What You Should Know about It

Posted by Frank Gogol

The requirements for getting a visa in the US vary depending on your circumstances. For instance, the H4 visa is normally issued to immediate family members. According to the law, they should be H1-B visa holders to qualify for getting the H4 visa. The latter enables family members to come to the US and settle there. In this article, we will expand more on the application process, which includes completing the DS 160 for H4 Visa.

What Is Form DS 160?

Prior to applying for an H4 visa, each applicant – and this includes children as well – must fill out the form DS 160. You are expected to complete and submit the form prior to your scheduled interview at the Consulate or Embassy.

In order to confirm the booking on your interview, you need to provide the barcode number on the Form DS 160 confirmation page. As stated by the law, this form is to be submitted online. However, you are required to bring the printed confirmation page on the day of your interview.

The Embassy or the Consulate doesn’t accept handwritten documents or anything of the sort. Also, you won’t be able to attend the interview without the confirmation page.

The form DS 160 is signed electronically. By doing so, you guarantee that the information you included in the form is correct. In case you include any inaccurate information, this could harm your eligibility of entering the US.

How Does DS 160 Relate to the H4 Visa?

During the interview per se, you don’t have to bring a lot of documents with you. To that end, the result of the interview will be imminently connected to the information in your DS 160 form. Of course, what you say during the interview also counts.

In addition to that, even if the visa officer might request you to bring any additional documents at the interview, the information you present will be checked against what you already stated in the form.

If there are some inaccuracies and something doesn’t match, this could lead to having your visa application denied. This is what makes filling out the DS 160 for H4 Visa so important, as it directly influences the result of your visa application.

Who Qualifies for an H4 Visa?

As we briefly mentioned beforehand, the H4 visa is granted to the close family members of H1 visa holders. The family members that qualify for the H4 visa include the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years old of the visa holder.

If the answer is positive, the family members will be admitted in the US during the same time period as the principal visa holder.

At the same time, depending on the type of nonimmigrant categories for which the family members qualify, they might be admitted into other categories as well. For example, spouses and children may qualify for the F-1 category – allowing them to study in the US.

Immigrants belonging to the H-4 visa category might study in the US. Nonetheless, they cannot get any form of employment. In order to work, one has to get USCIS permission, in order to change the status application. There are some exceptions to this, as pointed out here.

Considering that holders of the H4 visa aren’t permitted to work, this means that they aren’t issued a social security number either. Instead, they get a tax ID known as ITIN.

Concurrently, in the position of an H4 visa holder, you may open a bank account. Ultimately, you may also choose to change your status from an H4 visa holder to H1B, if that seems like being a better option for you.

The issue of the H4 EAD has been thoroughly discussed in the last years, as the matter of EAD has led to numerous controversies.

How to Fill Out a DS 160 for an H4 Visa?

Now, we’d like to get a bit into more detail about completing your DS 160 for H4 Visa. This form is to be completed online, more specifically here. Before you start filling out the form, here is what you will need:

  • A digital picture in a given format. In the case in which you don’t manage to provide a picture that meets the specifications, you can bring a picture at the interview. Also, note that some embassies and consulates no longer necessitate applicants to upload a digital photograph when filling out the DS 160 for H4 visa. In this scenario, the photograph is to be taken at the OFC (offsite facilitation center) or the ASC (application service center), together with your fingerprint.
  • You should also know the consulate where your interview will take place.
  • Each applicant has to provide comprehensive passport details such as date of birth, issue date, passport number, expiration date, and so on.
  • Family information including name, work address, mailing address, income, occupation, etc.

Guidelines on Filling out the DS 160 for H4 Visa

Getting Started

First of all, you should go online for completing the form. You will have to select the country in which you’ll be having the interview, as well as a verifying code. Depending on the country you’re applying, you will either be required to provide a digital photo or not. For example, in Malaysia and the Philippines you have to upload a photo, but this isn’t the case for Mexico or India.

After entering this information, you will have to choose from three options: starting the application, retrieving the application and uploading the application. As you fill out the DS 160 for H4 Visa, you will be using the following: start an application and retrieve an application.

When filling out the application, you will get an application ID. This ID will come in handy for retrieving your saved information, in case the session times out.

Personal Information

Let’s move on to the next part of the application –filling out the personal information. At this point, the questions are pretty basic. You have to include your name, date of birth, marital status, and other types of basic info.

The next section – that of personal 2 – requires you to provide info on your country or region/origin, whether you have double nationality or not. You will also be required to include your national identification number, if your country has one, of course.

In case you have lived in the US before, you’ll also have to include your former US social security number. If not, simply choose does not apply.

Next, you will have to introduce your home and work addresses, your phone, email address, so on and so forth.

Passport Information

The next part of the DS 160 for H4 Visa implies filling out your passport information. Namely, you’ll have to check the type of passport you have, your travel document number, passport book number – if this applies in your case. Otherwise, simply check does not apply.

Also, you’ll have to include where the passport has been issued – the city, state/province, and country/region. You’ll find that filling out the form is quite straightforward and to the point, at least at this stage.

Travel Information

At this point, you’ll have to indicate the purpose of your trip to the US, and your specific travel plans – if you have made any. This includes adding the address where you’ll be staying in the US, the person that will be paying for your trip, and so on.

In the case of temporary business pleasure visitor, you will have to choose from three options – b1 (business), b2 (tourism) and b1/b2 (business and tourism). Many people choose the third option, as the visa is normally issued for a 10-year period, and this covers all grounds. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about being asked a lot of questions at the port of entry, if anything.

Travel Companions Information

If you’re traveling alone, then you will simply have to indicate that in this section and proceed with the following questions. On the other hand, if you are traveling with a family member or anyone else, you will have to provide some information about them, including names, relationship with the person, and so on.

Previous US Travel Information

When filling out your DS 160 for H4 Visa, you are also expected to indicate whether you have previously been in the US or not. If you have, then you must offer some details regarding your stay. You’ll have to say whether you have had a driver’s license in the US or not, the state in which you had a driver’s license, and so on.

In addition to that, you will have to outline whether you have been granted a US visa in the past or not. At this point, you will also have to offer a bunch of details such as the visa number, the date it was issued, whether you are applying for the same type of visa or not, and other key questions.

You’ll also have to say whether you have been rejected a visa application in the past or not. You should also provide a detailed answer explaining the reason why your application was denied.

Also, if anyone has filed an immigrant petition on your behalf, you’ll have to offer an explanation. In case you have been in the US before, you can use this calendar to calculate the precise duration of your stay, to ensure that you give an accurate answer.

US Point of Contact Information

If you plan on visiting someone in the US, you should include this in your application. You will also have to indicate the other person’s relationship with you – or the connection you may have with that organization if that’s the case.

At the section contact or organization in the United States, it is advisable to enter at least one.

Family Information: Relatives

This part of the form requires you to offer detailed information regarding your family members – such as your father, mother, or any other immediate relatives you might have living in the US.

As for the spouse section in the form, you’ll have to fill this out if you’ve selected married, as the marital status in the personal information section.


To continue, it is also compulsory to include info regarding your work, education, and training as you fill out your DS 160 for H4 Visa. After choosing your primary occupation, you have to enter the name of your employer, the address, so on and so forth. The same goes for the school you’re attending if that’s the case.

You are also expected to briefly describe a list of responsibilities you have had at your current job or business.

If applicable, you must provide employment data for the last five years. If you’ve had more than one employer throughout this period, you should click add another.

Something important worth noting is that only male applicants and all applicants for questionable countries have to offer previous work and education information, as well as languages and travel history. That is to say, if you notice that your DS 160 for H4 Visa doesn’t come with these sections, there’s nothing to worry about.

It merely means that you aren’t required to complete these sections.

In the section where you have to offer a list of the countries and regions visited, you should include all the countries, aside from your country of residence.

Security and Background

Moving on, this part of the form will require you to offer a bunch of more detailed answers to a few questions. In case you choose yes to one of the questions in this section, this might mean that you’ll have to appear in front of a consular officer.

Uploading a Photo

When applying in countries such as Mexico or India, you don’t have to upload a photo to your online form. The photo will be taken at the visa application center or the consulate, in the day in which your interview is scheduled. That is to say, your photo will be taken when your fingerprints will be collected as well.

Also, note that, starting from 2016, wearing glasses in the visa application photo is no longer permitted.

Reviewing the Information

After completing all the sections in the DS 160 for H4 Visa, you will have to review the information. In this way, you can notice the existence of any mistakes or inaccuracies. If you notice anything, you can still edit and adjust the information accordingly.

You shouldn’t rush into reviewing the form, as once you send out the application, you cannot make any changes whatsoever to it. When you choose to sign and submit application, you’ll have to indicate if someone has helped you with the completion of the form, as well as provide an e-signature.

Once you click on the sign and submit application button, you will get a confirmation right away. Afterward, you can print your confirmation – you’ll have to bring this with you at the interview for the visa.

Are All the Fields on the DS 160 for H4 Visa Mandatory?

Typically, the fields included in the form are mandatory, meaning that you have to offer a type of answer for each of them. In the case of the questions marked optional, you can leave the space blank, but most questions are compulsory.

However, you’ll see that most questions give you the option of choosing does not apply. So, if that’s the case in your scenario, you can always choose this answer.

Note that the application won’t be submitted unless all the fields are completed accordingly. Otherwise, you will get an error message requiring you to complete the field before you carry on with the application. In addition to that, if you won’t answer the questions that apply in your case, this might also lead to the rejection of your application.

What Happens If I Need to Pause Completing the DS 160 H4 Visa Form?

The DS 160 H4 Visa form automatically times out after you haven’t added anything to the application for 20 minutes or so. The time out feature is meant specifically to protect the privacy of the applicants. However, note that, when an application times out, this means that everything you’ve included until that point will be erased.

This is why you should save the application at given intervals to prevent this from happening. As you click on the save button, this will save the application for a limited time. If you want to permanently save the application, you have to select the save application to file option.

Should I Save the Application before Submitting It?

Yes, this is highly advisable. Ideally, you should save your application locally – on your computer drive or a stick. This is important for two reasons. For one thing, in case your application is rejected on grounds of being incomplete, you will have access to the saved application data.

In other words, you’ll have the possibility of including all the information that is required of you.

On a different note, if you apply for a visa on a frequent basis, having the saved application will come in handy the next time you plan on applying. This will save a lot of time, as you won’t have to refill the same data over and over again.

Do I Need to Provide Any Additional Forms, aside from the DS 160 H4 Visa Form?

Normally, you don’t have to worry about this. However, there is one exception. Expressly, when you apply at a consulate or embassy that utilizes the new DS 160 form, you’ll only use one form.

As for the embassies and consulates that have converted to a new process, the DS 160 has replaced all the forms that were formerly necessary. This effectively simplifies your application.

There are still some exceptions – namely fiancée visas (k-1/2). These visas still necessitate both the forms DS 160 and DS 156K. Another exception is the treaty trader/treaty investor visa application.

However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to check with the embassy or consulate where you are having your interview, to avoid unwanted complications.

You will most likely find information on this topic on the official website of the consulate or embassy. That’s because there may still be some embassies that require all the forms, as they haven’t done the transition to the new specifications.

What to Do If Your DS 160 Session Timed Out?

If you leave your DS 160 for H4 Visa open for too long, then the session will automatically time out. In this case, you can always come back to your saved application.

You can do that by using the retrieve application option. Keep in mind that gathering all the information needed for completing the form can be time-consuming.

However, in order to avoid losing all the information you include along the way, make sure you save everything from time to time. Note that for retrieving an application, you have to provide your DS-160 application ID. You can even choose to print your application ID by using a link, to ensure that you won’t lose it.

You should also make a note regarding the security question and answer. Aside from the application ID, surname and birth year, these will also be required for retrieving a saved application. In the unfortunate event that you forget this info, you won’t be able to retrieve your form.

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Final Thoughts

Finally, we are hopeful that this guide on DS 160 for H4 Visa will serve as a good ground for completing this form stress-free. Make sure you pay attention to each step of the process, to avoid making mistakes. As you can see, it’s not as difficult as it seems as long as you factor in a range of key guidelines. Most importantly, make sure you save the application constantly, to avoid losing the progress you’ve made with filling it out.

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