United States: Technical Problems Plague DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
Foreign nationals who are trying to fill out Form DS-160, the new, fully electronic nonimmigrant visa application, have been experiencing widespread technical problems and delays. The Department of State (DOS) is attempting to resolve the problems, but in the meantime, individuals who are unable to complete the online form should check with the consulate where they will apply for alternate application procedures. Employers should be aware that foreign employees may be delayed in obtaining their visas and entering or reentering the United States while the system problems persist.
Technical problems have affected the DS-160 system for several months, but have increased markedly in recent days because a very large number of consulates began to require the online form as of March 1. Due to the flood of new applications, the electronic system became overloaded. DOS is in the process of fully implementing Form DS-160 at all consulates. The form is expected to become mandatory by April 30, 2010, when it will completely replace Form DS-156, the paper-based nonimmigrant visa application.
As an interim measure, many consulates – with the exception of those in Mexico – have temporarily resumed accepting the paper Form DS-156 and accompanying forms. Foreign nationals who are having difficulty completing Form DS-160 online should check with the consulate to determine whether Form DS-156 can be submitted as an alternative. (Contact information for all U.S. consulates is available at http://usembassy.gov/.) If the consulate will accept Form DS-156, applicants may access it and other paper-based visa application forms here. After completing the form, applicants must print out a hard copy and bring it to the visa interview.