State Dept. Introduces Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form
The Department of State (DOS) recently posted a cable sent to the field in May 2009 introducing the new DS-160 Web-based nonimmigrant visa application form, which is part of the Visa Office’s effort to automate the visa process to the extent possible. DOS noted that at least 12 posts currently require applicants to use the DS-160. The new form incorporates all of the current NIV forms (DS-156, 157, 158, 156K, 3032, and parts of the E visa application) into one interactive format, and allows applicants to upload a photo. It is hosted on the Consular Electronic Application Center, which eventually will host online immigrant visa and passport applications, online fee payments, “possible queuing systems,” and an online appointment system.
When an applicant fills out and submits the form online, the cable noted, he or she receives a confirmation page with a barcode that allows consular officers to locate the applicant’s case in the Consular Consolidated Database system and load it into the nonimmigrant visa system.
As noted above, 12 posts (including some Mexican and Canadian posts, Dublin, Hamilton, Hong Kong, and Tripoli) are requiring use of the DS-160 by their applicants. These posts’ applicant volume makes up about a tenth of the worldwide NIV applicant workload, DOS noted. This summer, the agency is expanding DS-160 use to two additional posts in Mexico, as well as Australia. Current server capacity, however, does not allow DOS to expand DS-160 use more rapidly.
The form is available in English and Spanish, but translations into Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Serbian, and French are being developed. DOS hopes to have it available to all posts (and in the above languages) by the end of 2009.