Form DS-160 – What You Need to Know

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on May 26, 2023
At a Glance: Form DS-160 is an online application form used for temporary travel to the United States. It is required for Nonimmigrant Visa applicants and individuals applying for K visas. The form covers personal, contact, passport, travel, and background information. Completing the form accurately is crucial for visa approval. The confirmation number generated from DS-160 is used for interview booking. The form should be filled out completely, and the confirmation page is needed for the visa interview. Additional forms may be required for certain visa types.

Having a form DS-160 can help you a lot if you want to obtain a US visa. Before you get your visa, the first step you have to go through is filling a form DS-160 online. But since this form is not the easiest to deal with, you are probably encountering issues as we speak. To make sure you get over this obstacle, this article is packed with all the information you need for your DS-160 form completion.

What Is Form DS-160?

Form DS-160 is an application form that allows you to travel to the U.S. temporarily. Also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, you have to submit this form online, and send it to the Department of State.

Usually, this form is used as a part of the application process for a Nonimmigrant visa, but it is also submitted by H4 Visa applicants. In order to have a successful application, the form has to be fully completed. It will be taken into consideration, together with the personal interview, and used as a decisive factor in being accepted for the Visa.

Who Needs Form DS-160?

Form DS-160 is needed by Nonimmigrant Visa applicants, as well as applicants who apply for K visas. It is needed by tourists who want to get into the U.S., but only temporarily. So, if you want to travel to the U.S., keep in mind that you need this form for the application.

How to Complete DS-160

Completing the DS-160 is for sure a very time-consuming task because there are a lot of fields you will have to fill. But with some guidance, you should be able to do it in a smooth manner. Here are the steps you should take to complete your DS-160 form:

Start Your Application

The first thing you need to do is go to the US Department of State’s site and then go to the Nonimmigrant Visa Application page. There, you will be asked to select the country you apply for the visa from, type a captcha code in a field, and upload a digital photograph of yourself. Keep in mind that the site also allows you to check the photo and see if it meets the requirements.

Then, if you’re applying for the first time, click on the “Start an Application” button, which will offer you an Application ID that you will have to print.

If you need to retrieve an application instead due to a timed-out session, choose the “Retrieve an Application” button.

Personal Data

For this part, things are pretty simple. All you have to do is provide your personal information. This includes your name, gender, marital status, possibly maiden name, place, and date of birth, after which you move to the “Personal 2” page. Here, you will have to provide your U.S. taxpayer ID number, National Identification Number, nationality, potential other nationality you acquired, and U.S. Social Security Number. You should also say if you are a permanent resident of another country apart from the birth one.

Contact Information

Next, you’ll be taken to an “Address and Phone” page, where you have to give your mailing address, home address, and phone number. For the latter, you can give your primary and secondary numbers, as well as a number from your workplace. In addition, you’ll be asked for your email address.

Passport Information

The next thing you’ll have to provide is your passport information. This will include the type of document, the passport book number, and the passport document number. You should also select the country in the travel document that was issued in.

Concurrently, you will have to offer the expiration date, insurance date, and information on whether the passport has ever been lost.

Travel Information

This is yet another thing to be added to your Form DS-160. Here, you will have to select the purpose of your trip to the States, whether you made specific travel plans, and if there’s someone paying for your trip. In addition, you’ll be asked if there are other people traveling with you, and you’ll have to complete some fields on your relationship with these people.

U.S. Contact

In this part of the document, you will have to offer information about your organization or contact person from the U.S., as well as their relationship to you. You’ll also have to offer their address.


Give information about your family in this part, such as your parents’ names, date of birth, and whether they are in the U.S. or not. In addition, you will be asked if you have other relatives currently in the United States.

Education, Work, and Training

Obviously, you’ll be asked specific information about your education, as well as your current occupation. Information will include the start date of your job, what you’re doing there, as well as your monthly income. Previous employments will also have to be mentioned.

Background and Security

Here, you will have to talk about whether you have health problems or not, or if you’ve abused substances in the past. Concurrently, you’ll be asked if you ever had any legal problems – if you’ve been arrested for a crime and anything of the sort.

The Final Steps

As you are finishing the application, you will have to add a picture, review your document, after which you can sign and submit it. Then, you’ll receive a confirmation that you have to print.

DS-160 FAQ

Form DS-160 is a big deal, so you have to know everything there is about it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this document:

What Is DS-160 Confirmation Number?

The confirmation number from the DS-160 is a barcode that has to be used to book your interview. That being said, it will help you get an interview after you’re done applying for your DS-160.

How Long Is DS-160 Valid from the Day It Is Submitted?

In general, the DS-160 should be valid as long as the information provided is current and hasn’t changed.

DS-160 Session Timed Out

If the session timed out during your application, you can reload the page, and retrieve your information. The data you introduced is saved, so you won’t have to introduce everything all over again.

Can You Change DS-160 after Submitting?

Once you submit the form electronically, you can’t change your information. However, you can retrieve the information as long as the application was submitted in less than 30 days before the access. You can retrieve your application, which will let your previous information to appear, and all you have to do is change whatever you need and re-submit the form.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Application?

To complete the application, it takes between 15 and 40 minutes as long as you know how to do it properly.

Are All Fields on the DS-160 Mandatory?

Yes, most fields you see in the application should definitely be completed. Otherwise, you will get an error. The ones marked with “Optional” can be left blank, though. Moreover, if some fields don’t apply to you, you may get the option “Does not apply”.

What Happens If I Need to Step Away in the Middle of Data Entry?

Stepping away for a short time, up to 20 minutes, won’t be an issue. The application will simply be idle. However, once this time passes, the application will time out, and you’ll lose all of your data. Make sure to constantly save your application.

How Do I Get a Digital Photo that Will Successfully Upload to My Application?

You can upload your photo, and then use the guidelines on the site to see if your photo meets the requirements.

What Should I Do If the Confirmation Page Has an “X” in the Box Where the Photo Should Be?

If this happens, it means that the photo upload failed and you need to submit a printed photograph meeting the requirements, together with the confirmation page of your form.

The Edits I Made from the Review Page “Edit” Link Did Not Save? Why?

They didn’t save because you have to use the page’s buttons at the bottom for navigation, and not the ones from the browser.

Should I Save My Application before I Submit It?

Yes, you should definitely save it, because you could edit some information later this way. Also, you’ll have it in case it’s incomplete and gets rejected.

Do I Bring My Entire Application with Me to the Interview, or Just Bring the Confirmation Page?

Just the confirmation page is enough for the interview. The interviewer will have nothing to do with your whole application.

Can I Create a Family or Group Application If I Am Traveling with Family or as Part of a Group?

You can definitely do so on the “Thank You” page. Once you do this, some information from your application will be automatically sent to the new one. Your family members need to have their own application if they travel with you, though.

When I Apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa Using the Online DS-160, Are Additional Forms Required?

In general, there aren’t. Still, there is an exception, respectively the Fiancee Visas K-1, K-2 and K-3. They require forms DS-156 and DS-156K too.

I Am Applying for an E Visa. Do I Need to Fill Out DS-160 and DS-156e?

For an E-Visa, you don’t need to complete form DS-156E. All you need is Form DS-160.

Read More

Final Thoughts

Form DS-160 is required for an immigrant visa, but the process is a little difficult and takes time. As long as you know everything that was presented in this article, you’ll have an easier time with it and you won’t deal with as many obstacles along the way. If you have other curiosities, don’t forget to check Stilt – we may have just what you need.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.