FAQ-DS 260


What is Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application) is the first step in the application process to become a permanent resident (green card holder) of the U.S. Form DS-260 is an online visa application that must be completed and submitted through the National Visa Center’s website.

What is the National Visa Center?

The National Visa Center (NVC) is a branch of the United States Department of State and located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The National Visa Center is charged with processing all permanent resident (green card) applications submitted by foreign-born individuals applying for immigration through their local United States, Embassy, or Consulate.

What are the Consular Processing Steps?

A basic outline of the DS-260 consular processing steps is: Family-based immigration - I-130 Sponsorship Foreign-born nationals those who want to immigrate to the United States through a relative must be sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder). To start the immigration process, your petitioner/sponsor must complete and file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with all other necessary documentation. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send your petitioner/sponsor notice of receipt of Form I-130 in about two to three weeks. This I-130 application will be approved if United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can verify your relationship with your petitioner/sponsor and your sponsor’s citizenship status is legitimate (U.S.Citizen or Permanent Resident). Your Petitioner/sponsor will receive notice of USCIS’s decision in a few months, depends on the category. Family-based petitions take 2 years to 5 years to get approved.

The application and other submitted materials will be sent to the National Visa Center If your petitioner/sponsor’s I-130 application gets approved by USCIS.

The National Visa Center (NVC) will tell your petitioner/sponsor when it receives the I-130 application. You and your petitioner/sponsor must pay close attention to this notification because it will contain three important numbers

  1. A unique National Visa Center identification number

  2. Your National Visa Center case number

  3. An invoice number

These three numbers are very important because they are essential to continuing your immigration process. Completing Form DS-260 Once your petitioner/sponsor is notified that their I-130 application has been received by the National Visa Center, it is time for you to complete Form DS-260. The DS-260 is an online form, meaning it must be completed and submitted online through the National Visa Centre’s website

You should Complete your Form DS-260 first, as it is your visa application. On the National Visa Center website, you will be asked to enter your case number located on the notice received by your petitioner/sponsor. Only after entering this case number do you have access to the rest of Form DS-260. Then, complete the rest of the form.It is extremely important that you should reply each question completely and honestly. After finishing Form DS-260, print and keep it in a safe place.you may be required to bring it with you to your immigration interview. Once you completing and printing Form DS-260, immediately complete and submit Form DS-260 advises the National Visa Center of how to contact you throughout your immigration application process. In completing this form, you are required to provide a contact attorney. Pick your attorney carefully because this person will represent you during your immigration application process.

This person/Attorney can be anyone you choose: yourself, a trusted friend, a family member, your sponsoring relative, or an immigration attorney. Submit Requested Documentation Once Form DS-260 is completed and submitted, the National Visa Center will notify you of any supporting documents necessary to supply. Delay or wrong submission in these requested documents will slowdown in the visa processing. When Processing Begins After Form DS-260 and all supporting documents have been filed, your immigration application is ready to be processed. The National Visa Center will begin processing your application depends on your petitioner/sponsor and your family relationship with your petitioner/sponsor.

If you are sponsored by a U.S. Citizen and are an “immediate relative” (spouse, a child under 21 or parent of a U.S. Citizen), the National Visa Center will begin processing your application immediately. (Visas Numbers for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens are unlimited)

If your petitioner/sponsor is a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), you must wait for a visa to become available for your visa category.

After submitting Form DS-260, National Visa Center will tell you (or your Attorney) that your application is complete but “visas are not currently available for your visa category,” with instructions to check the Visa Bulletin (Priority date refers to the date that your visa number becomes available)

Paying Fees and Additional Filings

Once National Visa Center has processed your DS-260 application, it is time to pay all necessary fees and undergo a host of other steps. As of February 2020, there is a $325 processing fee for Form DS-260.

Filling Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)

All intended immigrants filing Form DS-260 must file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). I-864 Form is an affidavit showing support from your sponsoring relative if you are not financially able to support yourself after arriving in the United States. There is a $120 processing fee with Form I-864.

All persons seeking permanent resident status (green card status) must undergo a biometric exam. This exam requires you to give fingerprints, photographs, and other information that will be given to the Federal Bureau of Investigation so a background check may be performed. An interview will not be scheduled until your FBI background check is complete. There is an $85 fee for biometric services. The National Visa Center will schedule an immigration interview onceyou filed all your applications, supporting documentation and pay all fees, This usually takes few months for the interview to be scheduled.

Medical Examination

Every foreign national who applies for immigration must undergo a medical examination to decide if they pose a risk to the public health of the United States In your National Visa Center interview letter, You will be instructed to undergo an immigration exam and complete Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination). Schedule this exam quickly, because the exam and all associated laboratory tests must be completed before your immigration interview date. While there is no fee associated with Form I-693, you are responsible for paying for your I-693 medical exam (these fees vary depending on doctor and location). National Visa Center will instruct you to bring your completed I-693 form with you to your immigration interview

Immigration Interview

Your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate will schedule an immigration interview. You will be notified of its date, what you must bring to the interview, and any other relevant information. Approval Within a few weeks of your interview, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will notify you of the results of your visa application. If approved, USCIS will place a visa stamp in your passport until your actual green card is processed. At this time, you will be required to pay United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a fee of $200 for the production and mailing of your actual permanent resident card (green card).

What are the Total Fees?

There are many fees associated with obtaining your permanent resident card (green card) under Forms DS-260 As of February 2020, these fees include: DS-260 application fees: $325.00 I-864 (Affidavit of Support) application fee: $120.00 Biometric services fee: $85.00 I-693 medical exam: No fee (but you must pay for the examination) If approved, production fee for a green card: $200

What is the Processing Time?

How long it takes to receive your green card after filing Form DS-260 depends on several factors, including Which U.S. Embassy or Consulate you are applying through; Whether your relationship with your sponsoring family member falls under the "Immediate Relative" or "Family Preference" category of immigration law; and Whether your sponsor relative is a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident . Depending on these circumstances, you may receive your green card in a few months or several years.

What Documents do you file?

Some of the supporting documents to be filed with Form DS-260:

  • Confirmation that Form DS-260 had been filled online

  • Copy of your current passport

  • Birth certificate (with English translation if necessary)

  • Police clearance certificate if over the age of 16 and lived in the country of application for more than six months

  • Document of current marital status (certificate of marriage, divorce, death, etc.)

  • Military records, including a document proving honourable discharge

  • Certified court or prison record, if you were ever convicted of a crime

  • Form I-864 Affidavit of Support (including any financial documents supporting affidavit)

  • Form I-864A Contract Between Petitioner/sponsor and Household Member (including any financial documents supporting affidavit)

Any other documents requested by the NVC and/or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Filing Tips

Forms DS-260 and DS-261 are online forms that must be completed and filed through the United States Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).

Answers All Questions

The CEAC system will not let you move on to the next page until every required question is answered on the current page. Most of the questions on Form DS-260 are mandatory. If there is a file marked “Optional,” you can leave that field blank. Some fields will not apply to you; in those instances, you can check the box next to the field marked, “Does Not Apply.” All other fields are mandatory and must be answered. If you fail to answer any required mandatory question, CEAC will not allow you to proceed to the next page. Instead, you will receive a message instructing you to correct an answer. Answer All Questions in English You must complete Forms DS-260 and DS-261 in English. CEAC does not recognize foreign characters or symbols. If you attempt to answer a question with a character or symbol that CEAC does not recognize, you will be asked to re-enter your answer. Be sure to translate all answers into English. Save Your Application Often SelfLawyer recommends that you save Forms DS-260 and DS-261 as you complete each page. The CEAC system will “time out” due to inactivity after a set period. If the system times out, you will lose all your answers since the last time you saved your application. Form DS-260 is extensive and difficult to complete in one sitting. If you need to stop and take a break, simply save your work and return later. However, if you fail to complete Form DS-260 (or Form DS-261) within 30 days, CEAC will remove your uncompleted form(s) from the system and you will be required to start a new. Any time you save your work or are timed-out, you can retrieve your saved application by returning to the Consular Electronic Application Center website. Access the Immigrant Visa - Summary Information screen and select View/Edit from the IV and Alien Registration section. You will then be provided with a list of the applications saved in your case, along with their respective statuses: “Not Stated,” “Incomplete,” or “Submitted.” To display and proceed with an incomplete application, select the “Edit” button to the right of the application’s status. Review Your Answers Carefully Before you can electronically sign and submit Form DS-260, the CEAC requires you to check all your answers. This is a good time to look at your immigration application to confirm all the answers are correct. Remember, if you submit incomplete or wrong answers this will hurt your chances of getting a visa. Print Your Completed Application After completing Forms DS-260 and DS-261 be sure to print your records. You may be asked to bring a copy of these forms to your interview. It is a good idea to study your answers before your interview, so the information entered on Form DS-260 will match the information detailed in your interview answers. Submit Your Application Submit your application by clicking the “Sign and Submit Application” button on the “Sign and Submit” page. However, once submitted, you will not be able to access your application again without calling for assistance from the National Visa Center, the Kentucky Consulate Center, or the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are currently located.

What You Should Expect in Your Consulate Interview?

The last step in the immigration process is the interview. During your consulate interview, you will have to answer a number of questions. Some are general, others very specific. These questions are designed to decide if you qualify for a visa. If you are applying based on marriage, the consular officer may ask personal questions designed to determine if your marriage is genuine or an attempt to evade U.S. immigration law. Your consulate interview can take as little as twenty minutes. For security reasons, you might not be approved on the day of your interview. Instead, you may be asked to return to the Embassy or Consulate to pick up your immigration visa. There will be a time limit on when you are allowed to immigrate to the United States (usually six months). Interview Documents Some of the documents you might be required to bring to your consulate interview: Two U.S. passport-style coloured photographs; Original passport (must be current and not expire within six months after the interview); Your completed Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination; Visa fees or receipts showing fee was paid online; and/or any other document(s) requested by the National Visa Center or U.S. Embassy or Consulate.