In this post, I am going to help you all with queries related to US tourist visa and DS 160 form process. I know the US tourist visa process can look cumbersome with so many steps to complete and without any guidance from anyone, it becomes a daunting task. There is always something to fill in the DS 160 application form that makes you feel nervous as you do not want the embassy to reject your application. In most scenarios, you do not know whether you are filling correct information in your US visa form or not?
The same thing happened to me while filling out my lengthy DS-160 form which involved mentioning your social media IDs and at one point of my application process, I thought I would not be able to finish it. Once I started seeing heaven after completing my DS-160 form, I had to struggle with the US visa appointment process.
So yes, it is a lengthy process for everyone but at the same time smooth and organised if you know the steps well. Just keep a record of all documents and places related to your trip and be sincere while applying for the Visa process. So, In this post, I will help you in filling your DS-160 form and getting you ready for the Visa interview process with a complete step by step guide. This post is going to be lengthy, so I have provided a navigation table above for your convenience. I have also divided this post into sub posts, so this will be an easy read for you all.
2. Non-immigrant Visa
A non-immigrant is a person who does not have any intention of staying permanently in a country. So, If you are going to the US for tourism or business purpose, your stay in the US will be considered as temporary, not permanent. You should not overstay your visa validity period. So before filling out your application form, you as a tourist need to remember that you are applying for the visa as a non-immigrant only. And no matter the condition, you will come back to your country after your temporary visit to the USA is over.
3. B1/B2 Visa Type
As there can be various type of reasons for which somebody would go to the US, there will be different categories of visa. So if somebody is going or planning to visit the US for tourism purpose, he or she would fall under B2 category visa, and if somebody is visiting the US for business purpose, then that candidate would fall under B1 category visa.
Mostly, both types of visa are combined and issued as one visa called B1/B2 Visa. It is better to select the B1/B2 category in the application form. It is generally approved for 10 years.
Although work visa, student visa, religious worker visa, journalist and media visa are common non-immigrant visas, but they do not fall under B1/B2 category visas. So check their visa category carefully before filling the online application form.
Important points to consider:
If you are applying for a B1/B2 visa, then you must convince the consular officer during your interview that you are a temporary visitor and will not overstay your visa validity period. As per instructions and training given to visa officers, it presumes that every B1/B2 applicant is an intending immigrant and can allegedly overstay his or her visa period in the near future.
4. What is DS 160 Form?
When you start your US visa application process, you need to fill out a visa application form called DS-160. It is the first step in the visa application process. It is an online non-immigrant visa application form to be filled under non-immigrant visa categories. So a person applying for B1/B2 Visa need to fill this form sincerely.
Every individual has to fill his or her DS 160 form even if you are travelling with your family. There is no provision to submit a combined DS 160 form for the entire family. However, there is a provision to be interviewed together.
A. Documents to keep while you complete your DS-160 form.
Answer all questions present in DS 160 form honestly and sincerely. Do not try to make a false case of anything. It is the only piece of document a visa officer reads religiously with reverence. So kindly do not fill any inaccurate information which you cannot justify at the time of your interview.
Below is a link to official "US department of state- consular electronic application center" web-page. Do not fill DS-160 form on any other unofficial websites.
Access the DS-160 form here, by clicking: Consular Electronic Application Center website.
5. Steps to fill DS 160 form online.
A. Getting started
Click the above link and enter the location where you will be applying for the visa. If you are applying for the US visa in country India, kindly select the same in the drop-down box. Selecting the country here means that the person applying for the US visa can go for his or her bio-metric and interview for the applying country only. Once you select your country, enter the dummy code and click on the "start an application" button.
Once you login you will be allotted an application ID number. Kindly keep it safe somewhere as this will be required to access the application later.
Below your application ID, there will be a list of security questions. Select the one that you can answer and remember to retrieve your application later.
B. Personal info. 1
Keep your passport ready for this.
Surnames: Enter all surnames exactly as they are written in your passport. If only one name is written in your passport, enter that as your “Surname.”
Given names: Enter your first name mentioned in the passport. If your passport does not have a first name, enter FNU (first name unknown).
Full name in Native Alphabet: check the box " do not apply". No need to enter anything here.
Other name and surnames: If you have any maiden name and used it before, select yes and enter your names in the box below. Otherwise, select No.
Telecode of your name: Just select No here and proceed further.
Enter your sex and marital status as per your status at the time of filling the form.
Date and place of birth: Enter as per given in your passport. Click save and proceed to personal 2
C. Personal info. 2
Keep your passport ready for this.
Country/Region of origin (Nationality) : It is the country for which you hold their passport. So if you are born in X country and overtime you took citizenship of Y country, then enter Y country as your nationality. Your passport must validate it as country Y will be written over it.
Do you hold or have you held any other nationality other than one indicated above: Just write all the nationalities you currently hold other than the one mentioned above and all nationalities you previously held.
Are you a permanent resident of a country/region other than your country/region of origin (nationality) indicated above? : Select Yes only if you have acquired any Permanent Resident status in any other country. PR is different than having a citizenship of a country. You can have a PR of a country but you might not have certain rights like voting rights etc.
National Identification Number: Select yes, if your country has given you a National identification number. It would be better for Indian residents to keep it blank. Though, Aadhaar number can also work as National Identification Number for Indians but still Indian government has not yet approved it as personal identification number.
U.S. Social Security Number: Enter your US SSN if you have lived in the US before, otherwise leave it blank.
U.S.Taxpayer ID Number: Enter your US TIN Number if you had/have one, otherwise leave it as blank.
D. Travel Information
Purpose of Trip to the U.S. : Select “TEMP. BUSINESS PLEASURE VISITOR (B) if you are going for tourism or business purpose.”
Have you made specific travel plans: Select YES only, if you have booked your hotel and flights already in advance. I would suggest to mark it as NO only and just mention your tentative travel date and number of days of travelling to the US. There is no need to book your flights in advance unless you receive your US visa. As for tourism purpose, US embassy highly discourages to book flights in advance before the interview. In my case, I did not book any flights nor booked any hotels for my stay. Embassy officers very well know that papers can be forged easily, so showing booking papers of anything is not a criterion for assurance of US visa.
Address Where You Will Stay in the U.S.: If you are staying with your friend or relative, enter the complete address of that person's residence. If you are staying in a hotel and have not booked it yet, enter the hotel address where you are most likely to stay. You can select any other hotel at the time of your final trip and approved Visa. It is asked just to confirm where you intend to stay. So at the time of the interview, stick to what you have mentioned in your DS 160 application form only. Otherwise, your answers would not match, and the officer who is conducting the interview will reject your visa application.
Person/Entity Paying for Your Trip: Select 'Self", if you are paying your expenses for hotels, flights, travelling, food from your pocket. Self sponsoring your trip is great, and it is always the best to put that first. And if someone else is paying for your trip expenses, honestly you should write his or her name in DS-160 form with mentioning other details also. However, you should be able to justify it at the time of interview even. Not just by bank/property papers but also through your conversation and DS-160 form details.
Worst case scenario would be that you are self-sponsoring your trip to the US but mentioned something in your employment details that clearly shows that you would not be able to afford 2-3 weeks trip to the US. It would definitely get your visa rejected in the first 10 seconds of your interview. So make sure answer thoughtfully in DS-160 form as same to be substantiated at the interview window with ample evidence.
E. Travel companions information
Are there other persons traveling with you? : Select yes if you are travelling with your family or in a group. It is generally assumed that a guy/girl in his/her 20's travelling alone would face visa rejection as there are ample opportunities present in front of them to settle in the US illegally. They would definitely overstay their visa validity period. However, if you are well settled in your country or have enough travel experience and can prove enough ties to your country then you can easily convince the visa officer for visa approval.
F. Previous U.S. Travel
Keep your passport ready for this
This category is simple. Honestly enter all your previous US visits with US visa approval or rejections history. If this is the very first time, you are applying for the US visa then select "NO" and proceed further.
G. Address, Phone and Passport Info.
In this, all your information related to residence address, Phone numbers, email address, Passport details with issued city and expiry details will be asked.
There will be a row of social media identifier question. Just fill all your you tube, Facebook, Instagram etc. IDs honestly to show your social media presence. It is a good thing to mention as this shows you are clean and open to everyone and you would think twice before doing anything nasty inside someone else's country. This will definitely boost your visa approval chances.
H. US point of contact:
Most Imp. for your visa interview.
Here you need to fill information related to any individual in the US who knows you and can verify your identity at any time. So it would be best to mention someone you know personally with complete address details to boost your chances of visa acceptance. Most people would say that mentioning you have a point of contact in the US would lead to visa rejection, but a visa officer knows that majority of people go to the US only if they have friends or relatives in the US. So better not to hide it. Work and study is a different scenario but for tourism purpose, I would always recommend mentioning the details of your relative or friends. Though, no one would verify your data from them unless you do something terrible or fall into trouble in the US.
Whether you are going to visit your friends/relatives or not, but if you have mentioned them in DS 160 form then they can ask you various questions related to them. So be ready to answer all those questions. It would be better to tell your 'point of contact' in the US that you are applying for a US tourist visa and ask them to provide as much information as they can to you.
Be sure that you have the following information handy and memorised at the time of interview. I will cover more about this in the next post.
- Name and address
- Phone details
- Occupation details in US
- Why they are in US?
- When they did move to US?
- How do you know them?
- Would you stay with them?
- Their house details- lease/rented/self own.
- Their Visa status in US.
- How often they visit your/their home country from US?
Generally, an invitation letter from your friend/ family/ relative is required to justify your visit to the US. But I don't think any written letter would boost your chances of visa approval as visa officers hardly see them, and if they do, it would be just to satisfy you. What matters is your DS 160 application form and your confidence level at the time of your interview. In my case, I mentioned only my friend's details in DS-160 form and at the time of the interview, they never asked for any invitation letter, nor I brought anything there.
If you fall under none of the categories above and you have no point of contact in the US, then just enter one of the hotel details with complete address.
I. Family ans Relatives Information
Do you have any other relatives in the United States? Select “No” | Select “Yes” if you have any relatives such as grandparents, in-laws, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. in the US and enter their details below.
For “Other Relatives”, select “Yes” only if you have relatives that you keep in touch regularly and knows that you will be visiting the US soon.
J. Work/Edu./Training Info & Previous History
Primary Occupation and employer: In DS 160 form, your primary occupation is your current occupation on which you are currently working on. Suppose you are a software engineer and working in a mechanical field then your primary occupation will be either mechanical (specific) or engineering (general). The second example would be, suppose you have been passed/graduated from engineering discipline and you are currently working in a government sector then your primary occupation will be Government sector. With that, enter your current employer/ address/ salary details also.
Briefly describe your duties: This will be asked at the time of the interview, and you should mention all details honestly in your DS 160 form. The answer should not be long enough; keep it to 5-6 sentences. Mention about:
- Your designation.
- Your department.
- Your employer/company name.
- Two or three lines related to your responsibilities at work.
While describing about your duties, try to avoid certain words such as marketing, gasoline, petrol stations etc. I am saying this because by mentioning or writing these words you can put yourself at the risk of rejection as these words can create ample opportunities for you to work in the US and this would not help you to get your visa approved. So carefully write about all your duties and select 2-3 responsibilities which can be described at the time of interview very easily.
Have you traveled to any countries within the last five years? Open your passport and answer all the countries you have visited so far in the last 5 years. This is a booster question, and mentioning about your travel history will increase your chances of visa approval.
K. Security and Background
This will be a set of 25 questions or more depending on your profile and country of passport. All answers to be given in either YES or NO manner. Honestly answer all questions, and in my case, all were 'NO". Any 'YES" may create difficulty for you or further evaluation could be required.
L. Photo Requirements section
This section may pop up depending on your country where you are applying for the visa. In countries like India, Mexico etc. there is no option to upload your photo as the same will be taken on the day of your biometric appointment. You can verify this at the confirmation page of DS-160 form. "Photo will be taken at the ASC" will be written at the place of photo section.
Still, there is no harm to carry one passport size photo as per specification mentioned at the US embassy site. In case you do not carry any photo with you at the time of the interview and they ask for it, there will be a booth available for the same. Visa officer will issue you a ticket for that.
For those, required to upload their photos may check the digital upload photo specifications here at the US embassy site.
M .Review section
In this section, you can review all the information you have entered previously. You can click on each of the subsections you have filled so far to review for accuracy and mistakes.
Requesting to read all the answers entered by you thoroughly and in case you find any slight mistake in your application, click on edit and re-enter the information and submit it.
N. Digital Sign and Submit
After correcting all information on the review page, electronically sign and submit the DS 160 form.
Once you click on the sign and submit option, you cannot edit DS 160 form data. So for any further corrections, you need to re-generate a new DS -160 form with unique application barcode number. So make sure you peruse your application before submitting and make sure that your application is error-free.
O. Confirmation Page
On the confirmation page, three options will be displayed.
Print Confirmation: This is to print your confirmation on the spot. Same to be carried at the time of your bio-metric evaluation along with your passport.
Print Application: This is to take a print out of your DS-160 form. Please note that this will generate a copy of DS 160 form you have just submitted. It is for your reference purpose only. You do not need to bring this on your appointment day. But keep a printed copy with you as this will help you to re-read the answers submitted by you and will help you to prepare for the interview.
Email confirmation: Through this, you can email yourself the confirmation page.
That's it, guys! If you have made it so far, congratulations to you as I know you have conquered the most challenging step of your application. It will be the make or break point at the time of your interview. By entering, reviewing and submitting your DS 160 form, you have made sure to yourself that getting an approved visa is just 1 step away from you now. If you have any questions or stuck at any point of your DS 160 application form, feel free to comment here or email me.
Now the next step would be to pay your MRV fee and schedule your US visa biometric and interview. I have also enclosed some FAQ in next post to help you further in submitting your DS 160 form. Please click here to schedule your appointment for US Visa.