DOS Moves to Online Immigrant Visa Applications

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that, as of September 3, 2013, two immigrant visa (IV) forms have been replaced by online "paperless" versions. The Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (DS-230) and the Choice of Agent form (DS-3023) have been replaced by their respective electronic counterparts, the DS-260 and the DS-261.

Background on Immigrant Visa Forms

These IV forms are designed for foreign nationals who are undergoing consular processing and then entering the United States to become permanent residents (i.e. "green card" holder). The online forms can be found at the Consular Electronic Application Center WebSite. The changes that have been implemented by the DOS have no impact on those applying for nonimmigrant visas. These changes by the DOS also have no impact on persons who are applying for adjustment of status in the United States by filing Form I-485 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Current IV Applicants may Need to Complete New Forms

Applicants who have cases pending either at the National Visa Center (NVC) or at a U.S. consulate based upon the now-obsolete DS-230 do not need to submit the online forms, unless specifically asked to do so by the NVC or consulate. Whether or not an individual will be asked to submit a new form depends upon where the case stands in the immigrant visa process.

Form DS-260 Differs From Predecessor

The online DS-260 form is similar to the DS-230, but some of the questions do differ. For instance, the DS-260 asks about the applicant's last five (5) trips into the United States, rather than all previous trips. Similarly, the security and background questions have been separated into shorter, more precise queries.

Completing the DS-260

The DS-260 form must be completed in English, and every question must be answered, even if the answer is Does not apply. The form contains a feature that allows applicants to start and save the information entered prior to submission. See the Frequently Asked Questions page on the DOS WebSite for additional details on the new form.

Conclusion

The purpose of creating the new forms is to fully integrate this part of the visa application process into an online system. The DOS previously tested the DS-260 form at a number of consulates in a variety of regions worldwide. It is expected that the new, online system will facilitate the agency's ability to process immigrant visa applications. Individuals who require guidance or assistance with green card matters, including immigrant visa applications, are welcome to contact the knowledgeable and experienced legal team at the Murthy Law Firm.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.

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