DOS Visa Office Guidance on DS-160 Process04 Nov 2019
Representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recently met with representatives from the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Office (VO) to discuss current immigration policies and procedures. Prior to the meeting, AILA submitted written questions to the VO, to which the DOS responded in writing. Summaries of some of the key issues addressed regarding the online nonimmigrant visa application (form DS-160) are provided here for the benefit of MurthyDotCom readers.
Background on Form DS-160
Ordinarily, in order to schedule a nonimmigrant visa interview, one must first complete form DS-160. In completing this electronic form, the applicant must provide biographical information, list the type of visa being applied for (e.g., H1B), and answer numerous questions that may help a consular officer to determine whether to issue the visa. Once the DS-160 is submitted, the form is locked and the applicant is issued an electronic receipt notice with a unique barcode. The applicant can then use the barcode number to schedule a nonimmigrant visa appointment.
Questions on Revising the DS-160 After Submission
The VO responded to a number of the questions related to steps that should be taken by a nonimmigrant visa applicant if a change needs to be made to the DS-160 once it has been finalized.
The VO recommends that the visa applicant should thoroughly review the DS-160 before submitting it. If the DS-160 has been submitted and an error is noticed, it may be necessary to complete an entirely new DS-160, and possibly reschedule the visa appointment.
If a visa applicant wishes to make changes to the DS-160 after the visa appointment has been scheduled, one solution is to complete another DS-160 and use that barcode to schedule a new appointment.
On the other hand, if the visa applicant wishes to keep the existing appointment date, the VO recommends against completing a new DS-160, and then using that barcode to attend an interview that was scheduled using a different DS-160. The reason is that it may cause processing delays and possible confusion necessitating that the visa applicant reschedule the appointment.
The DS-160 application is locked upon its submission. In certain circumstances, a visa applicant may correct the information on the DS-160 at the time of the interview, by bringing it to the attention of the Consular Officer at the start of the visa interview. Consular Officer could enter or note the corrections and enter remarks, but the VO explained that the risk is that generally the original data remains as submitted.
Depending upon the nature of the correction (e.g., wrong visa classification selected), the consular staff is allowed to unlock the DS-160 application for the applicant to make corrections and resubmit the application. This may necessitate rescheduling the visa interview and the visa applicant’s having to return to the consular post or embassy at a later date.
Challenges in Attempting to Change Consulate After Submission
One question inquired as to whether a new DS-160 is necessary if the applicant wishes to apply at a different consulate from the one indicated on the completed DS-160. The VO explained that it is technically possible to use the same DS-160 and barcode. However, the applicant may be better off completing a new DS-160 because “… the time that it takes to transfer the DS-160 is unpredictable.” [See Department of State / AIAL Liaison Committee Meeting, 03.Oct.2019.]
Social Media Monitoring
Recently, the DOS instituted a policy requiring most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants to provide their social media usernames, eMail addresses, and phone numbers. The VO clarified that all information on the DS-160, including social media content, is used to “… assess eligibility based on statutory visa eligibility standards.” [See Department of State / AIAL Liaison Committee Meeting, 03.Oct.2019.]
A nonimmigrant visa applicant should carefully review the DS-160 before submission. The process to make changes can result in losing more time and sleep if errors are noticed, particularly after the visa appointment has been confirmed. As Benjamin Franklin famously advised, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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