Friday, April 30, 2010

DS-160 Visa Application Nightmares

More and more US consulates require non-immigrant visa applicants to use the new DS-160 online application form. The DS-160 visa form was designed to replace the printable visa forms DS-156, DS-157, DS-158 and DS-3032. It was supposed to make life easier for visa applicants and visa issuing officers. As an experienced form filing professional, my job is to help US visa applicants submit an accurate and complete copy of the DS-160 however; I can honestly say that the whole DS-160 experience is far from hassle free.

Let me share with you the nightmares of the new DS-160 visa application form:

Uploading your digital photo has to be one of the most frustrating aspects of the DS-160 experience. Where in the past, applicants attached a simple passport photo; they must now get a digital picture. You can’t scan in your existing passport photo because it is too small, so you have to go to a professional photographer and ask him to take one that matches the US digital photo specifications. The minimum acceptable dimensions are 600 pixels (width) × 600 pixels (height). The maximum acceptable dimensions are 1200 pixels (width) × 1200 pixels (height). The file size must be less than or equal to 240 kilobytes. So much for going to the nearest photo booth and getting a passport photo taken cheaply and instantly!

Entering data onto the DS-160 form requires the patience of a saint. You must frequently save your work and if you know that you will not complete your visa application in one sitting you must save it as a separate file on your PC; each time you save a page you get a new version of the file, which can mean you end up with 10 different versions and if you didn’t rename them yourself they will consist of file names like CEACAA000BE6QN.

If you take too long entering data the form times out and you lose all previously unsaved information – great if you are a few pages in and you run upstairs to root out your passport, but as I said frequently saving your work can be just as frustrating when faced with a list of hieroglyphic file names.

Another thing about saving your work is you can’t save a page or move onto the next page unless you complete every question on your existing page. This leaves the visa application form wide open to errors whilst you enter false data with the intention of correcting it once you have retrieved the real information. It’s all too easy to overlook that false phone number of your US host, or your Social Security number.

Finally I experienced real problems when I tried to delete some data from the DS-160. Typing errors occur even to the best of us! I mistyped a client’s phone number by one digit and spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to delete it; in the end I called our IT guy! I was lucky – how many lone visa applicants have an IT guy at home.

I am paid to fill out the DS-160 form so I take the online form glitches in my stride; the average visa applicant is planning a whole new future around the filing of the DS-160. To anyone planning to fill out the DS-160 in the near future, I wish you luck.

Olga Romanova

IVT Services USA


  1. 100% agree with you, together with my wife spent half a day to fil up this f...... form ( DS 160 ) at the end of the day I was furius !!!!

  2. hello there,
    mine is a weird case!
    i used a cyber cafe for filling up my form!
    everything was fine to the last moment till the window saying "sign and submit" appeared!
    i clicked on the sign and submit button and suddenly the system crashed!
    well, i saved all the data during form fill-up but on the re-start of the system, i couldn't find any saved file on the desktop!
    the cyber cafe owner installed a software which kills the history immediately once the system is restarted!i saved the application ID in word format and had that disappeared either!
    i dont know what to do since i clicked on the sign and submit button but not having got any confirmation about the application!
    now i dont have my application ID and dont know if my information is in the database of vfs! me with this!

  3. Scam !!!! Scam !!! the DS-160 maybe hard to fill in 30 minutes for a 2 year old or people with an IQ of 40. It's not worth paying $200 for this stupid service.

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  5. Well this information can be a big help for people who want to apply for US Visa. Thanks for sharing your experience I will surely keep your key points in my mind.

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