Form DS-260: What It Is and How to Complete It

Updated on February 6, 2024
At a Glance: Form DS-260 is an online application form used by individuals applying for a U.S. immigrant visa. It collects necessary information and must be completed by various visa applicants, including family-based, employment-based, and diversity visa lottery winners. The form consists of different sections, and each applicant, including children, must submit their own form. The completion of DS-260 is crucial for the visa application process. No specific processing time exists for the form itself, and applicants should prepare supporting documents for the visa interview. Seeking guidance from reliable sources is recommended for accurate and up-to-date information.

Form DS-260, known as the “Immigrant Visa Electronic Application”, is a mandatory form used by individuals who are applying for a U.S. immigrant visa. This form is filled out online and is used by the U.S. Department of State to collect the necessary information from individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States.

Who Needs to Complete Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 must be completed by almost all individuals applying for a U.S. immigrant visa. This includes:

  1. Family-Based Visa Applicants: People who are being sponsored by a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  2. Employment-Based Visa Applicants: Individuals who have received a job offer from a U.S. employer and are being sponsored for an immigrant visa.
  3. Diversity Visa Lottery Winners: Winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery program are required to fill out DS-260 to proceed with their visa application.
  4. Certain Special Immigrants: This category includes a variety of applicants, such as certain religious workers, employees of international organizations, and others who qualify for immigrant status under U.S. law.
  5. Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens: Although fiancé(e) visa applicants (K-1 visa) initially fill out a different form (DS-160), they must complete DS-260 as part of adjusting status to a permanent resident after marriage.
  6. Adopted Children: In cases of international adoption, the adopted child or children will need to have a DS-260 filed on their behalf.
  7. Returning Resident Visa Applicants: Legal permanent residents (LPRs) who have been outside the U.S. for more than a year, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, and are seeking to return to the U.S., may be required to apply for a returning resident visa, involving the DS-260 form.

Each applicant, including children, must submit their own DS-260 form. It’s important to note that the form can only be completed and submitted online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). Completing the DS-260 accurately is crucial, as it forms a significant part of the immigrant visa application process.

How to Complete Form DS-260

Filling out Form DS-160 is a crucial step for those applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States. Here’s a detailed guide on how to complete this form:

Accessing and Completing Form DS-160

Go to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website to access Form DS-160. There’s no paper version available. A sample of DS-160 is available online for reference, but you must complete the actual form digitally.

It takes about 90 minutes to complete the form and you can save your form and return to it within 30 days. Your form can also be saved to your computer and uploaded later for completion.

Creating a Family Application

If applying for multiple family members, complete one DS-160 first. Then, use the “Create a Family Application” option on the confirmation page to auto-fill some details for other family members. Each member still needs an individual DS-160 form.

Steps to Complete Form DS-260

  1. Choose Application Location: Select where you are applying. This can be changed later if necessary.
  2. Application ID and Security Question: Note your Application ID and answer a security question for future access.

Section-by-Section Guide

  • Part 1 – Personal Information: Fill in your name, date of birth, marital status, nationality, passport or ID numbers, and U.S. social security or taxpayer ID (if applicable).
  • Part 2 – Travel Information: State your travel purpose, arrival and departure dates, and U.S. address.
  • Part 3 – Travel Companions: Include details of travel companions, excluding work colleagues. Each traveler needs a separate DS-160.
  • Part 4 – Previous U.S. Travel: Detail previous U.S. visits, visa denials, or immigrant petitions.
  • Part 5 – Contact Information: Provide your address, phone, email, and social media handles used in the past 5 years.
  • Part 6 – Passport Information: Enter passport details and information on any lost or stolen passports.
  • Part 7 – U.S. Point of Contact: List a U.S. contact person or organization.
  • Part 8 – Relatives: Provide information about your parents, spouse, and any relatives in the U.S.
  • Part 9 – Work, Education, Training: Detail your occupation, education, employment history, travel history, skills, and memberships.
  • Part 10 – Security and Background: Answer 25 security and background questions accurately.
  • Part 11 – Applicant Photo: Upload and adjust a photo that meets the U.S. Department of State guidelines.
  • Part 12 – Review and Confirm: Check all your answers, confirm your application location, agree to the terms, and submit the form. After submission, print the confirmation page to present at your visa interview.

Form DS-260 Filing Fee

There is no fee specifically for filing Form DS-260. However, applicants should be aware that there are other associated costs during the immigrant visa application process.

Processing Time for Form DS-260

When it comes to Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, there is no specific “processing time” as the form is filled out and submitted online. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Online Submission: Once you complete the DS-160 form online, you immediately receive a confirmation page. There’s no waiting period for the form to be processed.
  2. Confirmation Page: After filling out the form, print the confirmation page. This page is crucial as you must bring it to your visa interview.
  3. Visa Processing Post-Interview: If your visa application (for tourism, business, or visitor visas) is approved during your interview, the processing time to actually issue the visa typically ranges from 7 to 10 working days, although this can vary. This time frame does not include additional time for the visa to be delivered to you.
  4. Delivery Time: The total time from approval to having the visa in hand will include these processing days plus the time it takes for the visa to be delivered to you.

In summary, the DS-160 form itself does not have a processing time. Its completion and submission online result in an immediate confirmation page, which is needed for your visa interview. The processing time relevant to your application primarily pertains to the period after your visa interview.

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Final Thoughts

Form DS-260 plays a critical role in the U.S. immigration process, and completing it accurately is vital for a smooth visa application experience. By understanding the purpose of the form, who needs to complete it, and how to navigate each section, applicants can ensure they provide the necessary information required by the U.S. Department of State. Remember to carefully review all information before submission and prepare the required supporting documents for the visa interview. If you have any concerns or questions, consult with an immigration attorney or seek guidance from reliable sources. Best of luck with your visa application!

Form DS-260 FAQ

1. What is Form DS-260?

Form DS-260, also known as the “Immigrant Visa Electronic Application”, is a mandatory form used by individuals applying for a U.S. immigrant visa. It collects necessary information from applicants seeking to immigrate to the United States.

2. Who needs to complete Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 must be completed by individuals applying for a U.S. immigrant visa. This includes family-based visa applicants, employment-based visa applicants, diversity visa lottery winners, certain special immigrants, fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, adopted children, and returning resident visa applicants.

3. How do I access and complete Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 can be accessed and completed online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. There is no paper version available. It takes approximately 90 minutes to complete the form, and you can save your progress and return to it within 30 days.

4. Can I complete one form for multiple family members?

If applying for multiple family members, you can complete one DS-260 form first and then use the “Create a Family Application” option on the confirmation page to auto-fill some details for other family members. However, each family member still needs an individual DS-260 form.

5. What sections are included in Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 consists of several sections, including personal information, travel information, travel companions, previous U.S. travel details, contact information, passport information, U.S. point of contact, relatives, work and education history, security and background questions, and applicant photo.

6. Is there a filing fee for Form DS-260?

There is no specific filing fee for Form DS-260. However, applicants should be aware that there may be other associated costs during the immigrant visa application process.

7. How long does it take to process Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 is submitted online, and there is no specific processing time for the form itself. After submitting the form, applicants receive a confirmation page immediately. The processing time relevant to your application primarily pertains to the period after your visa interview.

8. What supporting documents are required for the visa interview?

Applicants should prepare the required supporting documents for the visa interview, which may include a valid passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), police certificates, and financial evidence. The specific documents required can vary based on individual circumstances.

9. What should I do if I have concerns or questions about Form DS-260?

If you have concerns or questions about Form DS-260 or the visa application process, it is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or seek guidance from reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of State or the official website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Please note that the information provided here is for general guidance purposes only, and it is advised to refer to official sources or consult with professionals for specific and up-to-date information.

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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.