What Is DS-160 Form For Students Visa, Requirements, Process Introduction

You have secured admission to a coveted US university. The funds are also arranged for. All that you need is a student’s visa and a few small formalities and away you go to a new life abroad in the wealthiest country in the world.
Before that happens, you have to fill out the visa application. As a student, you are eligible for a non-immigration visa.
To cope with the tedious process, you need to know everything about it. All the minute details must be crystal clear so that there is no error.
After all, you would arrive in the US with about a week to spare before your classes begin. If you have to redo the visa process, it might take a month and you would miss important lectures and make a poor impression on the bad faculty. SelectRight has in place a team of experts to guide you through the process.
Without further ado, we present a comprehensive guide to DS-160 form.

What is the DS-160 form?

The State Department website calls the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160. Otherwise, it is known as DS-160 without the prefix.
It sounds ominous but means visa application form.
DS-160 is an electronic form that you have to fill up before you visit the respective consulate for an interview.
As a student, you would be looking for an F-1 or student’s visa.
It is exciting to study abroad, and this is just the first step to the fulfillment of your dream.
You have to know how the DS-160 application for a student’s visa works, what information to provide, and the steps involved.

Who needs a DS-160 form?

Note that DS-160 is not only for students but for anyone who wants a visa—travel, work, business, marriage (spouse) but is not migrating permanently.
In simple words, anyone traveling to the USA but not migrating to the USA needs to fill up the DS-160.
The DS-160 is basically a comprehensive database about a person.
It not only aids in issuing visas but the presented facts also help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Department of Homeland Security (the equivalent of the Home Ministry in India).
If you have one type of visa and are migrating to another, you do not need to type out every detail again. Such as if you are a student on an F-1 visa and during the last semester get sponsored by Adobe for an H1B visa, there is no need to provide all the details once more. The new DS-160 form can import data from an application file. More on that later or better still ask an expert at SelectRight.

Where to fill out the DS-160 form?

You can find the form on the Consular Electronic Application Center website.
You can access the site only using Internet Explorer 11 or higher.
Alternatively, you can use Firefox and Google Chrome (version 58 and above).
At this moment, Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge cannot be used.

Before you start make a note of these facts

● The website speed varies considerably. Be patient when you click Next.
● It is best if you Save the application every few minutes. If there is a disconnection, you can start from where you were interrupted.
● Note the Application ID provided at the start. If you are interrupted, you would need it to have access to the submitted data. Otherwise, you would have to start out all over.
● The server times out after 20 minutes of inactivity. Keep this in mind in case you are interrupted by a phone call and away for a while. It is best if you switch off any devices that might distract you.

Instructions to fill DS-160 form

It is not difficult at all. But it is lengthy and has many parts. The website estimates that an average of 90 minutes is necessary for the task.
● You do not need to fill it out by yourself. Anyone appointed by you can do it on your behalf. SelectRight can make the process easier for you.
● The Sign Application button should be clicked by the applicant. Even if someone else fills in the details, you are responsible for any error.
● You have to provide the location from where you will be applying for the visa. There is a CAPTCHA code. Click on Start an Application.
● The next page would ask you to accept the terms and conditions. The lower half also provides you with an Application ID. Note it down since it allows you access time and again over the next month.
● You will be asked to fill up a security question – What is the given name of your mother’s mother. Note that a security question is to protect your application and the answer may or may not be correctly provided.
The form is divided into the following parts:
● Personal I
● Personal II
● Travel Information
● Travel Companions
● Previous US Travel
● Address and Phone Number
● Passport Details
● US Contact
● Family
● Work / Education / Training
● Security and Background
On the whole, the information asked for relates to:
● Name
● Age
● Place of birth
● Marital Status
● Address
● Phone Number
● Citizenship
● Passport Details
● Purpose of Trip
● Type of Visa
● Parent’s Name
● Name of any relative in the US
● Occupation
● Employer
● Languages Spoken
● If you have a history of mental disorder
● If you have a criminal history
and similar queries.
For most applicants, for an F-1 visa, the answer would be a negative.
Once you have filled it a preview would be shown with the answers filled out. Read it carefully because any error would require many weeks to correct.
At the end click the Sign Application button. You would be shown a confirmation that the form has been successfully submitted. The page is a printout with a bar code and your application number. You need to carry it to the embassy or consulate.

Documents needed to complete the DS-160 form

● Passport
● Travel Itinerary (not mandatory for an F-1 student’s visa)
● Details of your last five trips to the USA
● Curriculum Vitae (since your work history might be required)
● Those applying for an F-1 visa (students) would need a SEVIS ID number. It stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You can find it on the I-20 form issued by the school to which you have been admitted.
Note that filling up the DS-160 is not equivalent to receiving a visa. It is the first step to acquiring one.

How long can the DS-160 application be saved?

An incomplete DS-160 is saved for 30 days. If you have started on April 1, you have to complete it by April 30th.
After that, the data would be wiped and you would have to start all over again.
This does not apply to a completed DS-160 whose data is always available.

How to correct errors?

First, we would like to stress that you should be very careful so that errors don’t occur. That is why the visa application form allows you 30 days to complete it. If in doubt, find the right information and continue. If tired, rest and then return to the task.
But we are human and mistakes do happen.
There are two ways to rectify the situation.
● Retrieve the completed application and edit it. The system does allow it for a period of time.
● If that is not possible, disclose the error at the time of the interview and request a change.

Can I skip a question on the DS-160 form?

Most of the questions are mandatory and need a response.
The answers have to be in English only. The translation of the form is available but the fields have to be filled using English.
Questions that have Optional next to them can be left blank.
For some questions you can use Does Not Apply – e.g. US Taxpayer ID.
The great thing is you cannot leave a mandatory question black by mistake. The system would show a red prompt when you try to navigate to the next page if a mandatory field is empty.

How to save the DS-160 information locally?

You can save the entire file to your hard drive. Click the Save File as Application button and click Save when prompted.
When you need to apply for a new DS-160 you can auto-populate some fields by uploading the file. Option B will allow you to upload a previous DS-160.
Note that the DS-160 has changed from November 1, 2010. If you had filled up DS-160 before that date you should do it again.

Photo Requirements

You would be asked to upload a digital photo. You might also have to carry it with you for the interview.
● It has to be in color.
● No more than six months old.
● The head should be between 22 mm and 35 mm.
● The background must be white or off-white.
● Full face with a neutral expression and both eyes open.
● Eyeglasses are no longer allowed.
● Digital photo has to be 600 x 600 pixels.
● Print out has to be 2 inches x 2 inches.

Ending Tips

● Be careful. Be vigilant. Be mindful.
● Provide accurate information on the DS-160 form. If you don’t have the answer to a question, save and research rather than guess.
● Migration is a serious matter. Any delay would cost you a month or two and end up sabotaging your career.
There are 200,000 Indian students in the USA. If they can get it right, so will you.

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