Starting September 3, 2013, the Department of State will transition to an online immigrant visa application. Immigrant visa applicants will apply online using Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) – formerly Form DS-230. Applicants will choose their agent online using Form DS-261 (Choice of Address and Agent) – formerly Form DS-3032. Applicants will access both forms on the web at ceac.state.gov.
These forms replace the paper DS-230 and DS-3032 filed with the National Visa Center in anticipation of processing for an available visa at the U.S. Embassy. The National Visa Center (NVC) may instruct some applicants who previously submitted Form DS-230 to submit Form DS-260 on-line. Only Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole applicants will continue to use the paper forms.
The implementation of Forms DS-260 and DS-261 is the next step in the Department of State’s creation of a secure and efficient online immigrant visa application experience.
Cases Pending at National Visa Center (NVC)
For those immigrant visa applicants who have a case pending with NVC already, NVC may instruct some applicants who previously submitted Form DS-230 on paper to submit Form DS-260 online.
Accessing Form DS-260 On-line
All answers, except as specially provided, must be in English, using English characters only. Applications submitted in any language other than English may be rejected, and you will be required to log back into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) and provide English answers. You may save your partially completed DS-260 at any time by clicking on the “Save” button at the bottom of every page. If you need to step away, simply click the “Save” button to save your progress, and click on “Sign Out” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. All data that you entered up to the point of clicking on “Save” will be stored until you are ready to continue completing the form. Once you submit your application, by clicking the “Sign and Submit Application” button on the “Sign and Submit” page, you will be unable to access your application again.
Pros and Cons
The negative drawback of implementing a completely on-line filing of the Immigrant Visa Application is that most immigrants abroad do not have access to a computer and are not computer literate. This means that the immigrant would have to probably pay a service provider to complete the required DS-260 and DS-261 on-line, whereas in the past the immigrant could have completed these forms by hand.
The positive implications are that the Department of State is trying to save money and reduce cost associated with paper filings and handling all the papers mailed to their office. I’m assuming with the new on-line requirement that the information will be uploaded directly into their database and reduce time and costs to input the information by hand.
The Immigrant Visa Application (formerly Form DS-230) now called Form DS-260 is required to be completed by every traveling immigrant seeking an immigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy. It contains biographical questions about the immigrant’s employment history, education background, marital background, and where the immigrant wants his/her social security card and lawful permanent resident card to be mailed. Lastly, it is the petitioner who usually receives the request from the National Visa Center for completion of the DS-260 (formerly DS-230) along with requests for police clearance, civil documents and affidavit of support.
We welcome DOS’s rollout of the DS-260 system to all applicants. Even though the DS-260 application form is somewhat more complex to complete than the DS-230 paper form, it should eliminate the amount of paperwork, data entry mistakes and delays which are often associated with processing paper DS-230 forms.