Immigration Attorney’s Tips for Completing DS-260

Updated on 10/27/2023

Anyone who is applying for a green card outside the United States must complete DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application. Literally, the DS-260 is an application form for an immigrant visa. If this application gets approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate, applicants will be issued an immigrant visa on their passport. Later on, they will become a lawful permanent resident upon their entry to the United States with such immigrant visa.  Apparently, it is very important to fill out the DS-260 carefully in order to obtain an immigrant visa smoothly.

First Page of DS-260

1. When need to complete DS-260?

If immigrant petitions (I-130, I-140, I-526, I-360, etc.) have been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and in the petition form,consular processing is selected, USCIS will transfer these petition files to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing. Consular processing means aliens obtain an immigrant visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate.  

The National Visa Center (NVC) will notify principal intending immigrants, or called principal green card applicants, to start their immigrant visa applications through NVC’s online Consular Electronic Application Center. Completing DS-260 online is one of application procedures.  If an email has ever been provided to NVC, NVC will send the notification via email. Otherwise, NVC will send a paper notification via regular mail to the green card applicant’s address listed in the immigrant petition filed to USCIS.  Such address usually is a foreign address outside the United States, and you can imagine how easily such mail gets lost. As such, it is advisable to provide an email address to NVC. Good thing is that you can always provide or update an email address to NVC through Ask NVC.

Because there is an immigrant quote for each fiscal year, some of green card applicants need to wait for an immigrant visa number. The waiting time could be a few years. NVC will not send the immigrant visa application notification until an immigrant visa number is available or close to be available. You may check the waiting time in the visa bulletin which is published by the Department of State every month.  

2. Tips for completing DS-260 from an Immigration Attorney

1)  An immigrant visa application fee ($325 or $345/each applicant) must be paid online before filling out the DS-260.

2) To login Consular Electronic Application Center, you’ll need a NVC case number and invoice number,both of them can be found in the NVC’s immigrant visa application notification.

3)  The DS-260 includes the following parts: Personal Information, Address and Phone Information (address since 16 years of age), Family Information, Previous U.S. Travel Information, Work/Education/Training Information (in the last 10 years), Petitioner Information, Security and Background Information, Social Security Number Information, and Preparer of Application.

4)  It will take about 2-4 hours to complete the DS-260. You can save it in the middle and login again to continue to fill out. Be careful, you only have 15-20 minutes to stay in each page. If you stay in one page too long, you cannot save the information you fill out in this page. So if you have much information to fill out in certain page, you should fill out some of them, save, then continue to fill out the remaining information and save again. 

5)  The entire Form DS-260 must be filled in English. You can have someone help you fill it out. This individual should provide his or her information as the Preparer of Application at the end of the form.

6)  It is recommended to obtain basic civil documents first and then complete the DS-260. Generally, civil documents include passport, photo, birth certificate, police certificate, marriage certificate or divorce paper if applicable, military record if applicable, etc. The civil documents are supposed to be in English or with certified English translation.  Much information required in the DS-260 is included in these civil documents. Accordingly, you can fill out the DS-260 easily and accurately if you have them at hand. 

7)  After you complete and submit the DS-260, you will be required to submit civil documents based on the information provided in the DS-260. For example, if you mentioned you are married currently and have two prior spouses, you will be required to provide a marriage certificate and termination documents for the two prior marriages. 

8)  Be careful when you fill out the address you have lived since your 16th birthday in the DS-260. You must provide a police certificate from any country or region (other than the United States) where you have physically lived for more than consecutive 6 months after you turn 16 years of age. 

9)  After you submit the DS-260 online, you cannot change any information in it online.  Nevertheless, if you find a mistake later, you can just inform the consular officer who interviews you at the immigrant visa interview about the mistake and ask to have it corrected at that time.

10)  If the mailing address listed in the DS-260 to receive your green card has been changed later, you should report change of address to USCIS after you get an immigrant visa and pay the immigrant visa fee on USCIS’s website. 

11)  If you never have a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN), you can request one in the DS-260. Once you enter the United States with an immigrant visa, a SSN will be mailed to you usually within one month. 

12)  In the Security and Background Information of the DS-260, there is a question asking whether you have documentation to establish that you have received vaccinations in accordance with U.S. law, you can simply check YES even if you don’t have an immigration medical exam yet. 

13)  Be careful to answer the YES/NO questions in the Security and Background Information of the DS-260, except the vaccination question above, YES to any of these questions might cause your ineligibility to a green card. You’d better consult a skilled immigration attorney if that the case. 

14)  Once you’ve submitted the DS-260 online, you must print the confirmation page and bring it with other necessary documents to your visa interview at the U.S. consulate. 

You can always find an immigration attorney with extensive experience through to help you with the DS-260 and the whole consular processing.  Schedule a free consultation today to learn more!

3. Provide I-864 Affidavit of Support for some green card applicants

Almost all family-based green card applicants will need to provide I-864 Affidavit of Support to prove their immigration petitioners have enough income or asset to financially support them after they obtain a green card. Petitioners must submit I-864 Affidavit of Support and its supporting documents through NVC’s Consular Electronic Application Center as well. The Affidavit of Support fee of $120 must be paid before the submission of I-864 form.

With, we can help you prepare a complete I-864 Affidavit of Support package in such a simple way. Get started today!

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