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Introducing the DS-160 NIV Online Application Form

Reference Document: STATE 053315, 05/09


1.  Summary:  Twelve posts currently require applicants to use the DS-160, the new and fully web-based nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application form.  A few more posts will begin using the form this summer, but CA/VO will not approve any additional posts until server capacity is increased to ensure that system responsiveness for current users remains high.  CA/CST plans to add additional servers in the next few months. In the meantime, CA/VO has posted information on the DS-160 on its Intranet website.  End Summary.

2.  It is CA/VO's priority to automate the visa process as much as possible.  One major initiative is the DS- 160, a fully web-based NIV application form.  The 160 incorporates all of the current NIV forms (DS-156, 157, 158, 156K, 3032, and parts of the E visa application) into one interactive format.  It also allows applicants to upload a photo.  The 160 is accessible to post and Washington through the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD).  The form is hosted on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), which will also eventually host online IV and passport applications, online fee payment, possible queuing systems and an online appointment system.

3.  The DS-160 is a valuable tool for posts and applicants.  When an applicant fills out the form, he or she has the option of uploading a digital photo. [redacted] The applicant submits the form and receives a confirmation page with a one-dimensional barcode.  That page allows consular officers to locate an applicant's case in the CCD and load it into the NIV system.  Once a case is loaded into the NIV system, the DS-160 is permanently linked through the CCD.

4.  All posts can view DS-160 forms that have been submitted through the "NIV" tab in the CCD.  The "Online NIV Submissions" report locates DS-160 forms submitted by applicants but not linked to an NIV case.  The "Online NIV Applications" report locates DS-160 forms submitted by applicants that have been loaded into NIV and are therefore linked to an NIV case.  (Note: These two reports also will locate online DS-1648 applications, which are used only by A, G, NATO, and TECRO E visa applicants for domestic renewal in Washington through CA/VO/P/D.  End note.)

5.  We are exploring ways to add value to the visa application in advance of the interview.  For instance, the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) is performing checks requested by posts so the information is available to consular officers at the time of adjudication.  We are working on additional future modifications, including automated fraud, Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) checks. [Redacted] The reports are available to non-State Department CCD users as well.  If you work with non-State Department CCD users, such as members of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Visa Security Unit (VSU), please let them know that they have access to DS-160s in CCD if they are not already aware.

6.  Currently, twelve 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. We will be expanding DS-160 use to two additional posts in Mexico, as well as Mission Australia, this summer. The form is currently available in English and Spanish, but translations into Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Serbian, and French are being developed.  We hope to have it available to all posts (and in the above languages) by the end of CY 2009.

7.  We hope that you are as excited about this new electronic process as we are, and since reftel announced the DS-160 capabilities in NIV 04.06, we have been receiving inquiries from posts about how and when they can start using the DS-160.  Unfortunately, current server capacity does not allow us to expand DS-160 use for the next few months while maintaining the current level of system responsiveness.  Once we have sufficient capacity, we will notify posts, and CA/VO, in consultation with CA/CST, will resume approving posts to use the DS-160.

8.  In the meantime, please explore the DS-160 CCD reports so you can see what the new online form looks like. Other resources include:

-- Comprehensive instructions on how to import the DS-160 into NIV, and other important materials, are in the NIV 4.06 user manual.

-- DS-160 frequently asked questions (FAQs) and an updated list of DS-160 posts can be found on

-- In addition, we have posted a PowerPoint on the DS-160, post processing FAQs, and a DS-160 Implementation Checklist on the CA/VO Intranet page, most easily accessed through the "CEAC" subject area on the Content Finder drop-down.

9.  CA is preparing to pilot the IV online application, the DS-260, at selected posts.  We will provide you with more information on this pilot as it becomes available. A similar initiative is underway to make the medical examination forms electronic.

10.  If you have any questions after reviewing the DS-160 material and links provided above, please send them to your CA/VO/F/P post liaison officer (for procedural questions) or the CA SupportDesk (for systems questions).