DS-160 Form: Application Process, Documents Required, Fees & Validity

    Updated on: 18 Sep 2023


    Key takeaways from the blog

    • Key to US Student Visa: Learn about the DS-160 form, a crucial step in obtaining an F1 visa for studying in the US, and understand its role in assessing eligibility and purpose of visit.
    • Document Checklist: Find complete list of documents required to fill out the DS-160 form, including the I-20 form, SEVIS-ID, travel history, travel itinerary, employment details, and digital photograph specifications.
    • Application Process Simplified: Get a step-by-step guide on how to complete the DS-160 form online, schedule a visa interview, and navigate potential changes or corrections in the application. 

    For more in-depth insights, dive into the full blog!

    The DS-160 form is a crucial step in getting a student visa for studying in the US. Through the DS-160 form, students are seeking permission for a temporary travel visa to the US, which is why it is also known as a Non-immigrant Visa Application. This form is used for getting an F1 visa to the US

    The US department of state announced in Feb 2023, that prospective students can apply for an F1 visa 365 days before the academic term begins. You can fill the DS-160 form online for the visa interview to be scheduled.

    Latest Update:  A new announcement from the US Department of State has revealed that the fee for US student visas will increase from $160 to $185 starting May 30, 2023.

    Explore Scholarships to Study Abroad

    What is the DS 160 Form?

    DS 160 is a form to assess visitors to the US and getting study and work visas in the US. The form collects the applicant’s extensive personal, academic, professional, and contact details. One has to fill out the DS-160 application form before their interview with a US consular general or at the Embassy. Any discrepancy in the application can lead to the rejection of the visa application.

    Mentioned below are some functions of the DS 160 form:

    • Determining an applicant’s eligibility: DS 160 determines an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa. The applicant can visit the US only when the DS-160 is completed. A shortage of information or wrong or unacceptable information in the form can lead to the applicant’s ineligibility.
    • Allows to study or work in the US: DS 160 is compulsory for applicants to study or work in the US. Whatever your purpose, a DS-160 form is a mandatory requirement. It applies to F1 (non-immigrant visa for students to study under the SEVP - Student and Exchange Visitor Program).
    • Checking the purpose of the visit: The primary function of DS 160 is to find your purpose for visiting the US. DS 160 is applicable only for a time-limited stay in the US.
    • Confirms the temporary stay duration: It ensures the applicant will return once the purpose of arrival is accomplished. The US government wants to ensure that visitors with temporary goals will not stay once their objective is achieved. DS 160 notes the date when the visitor will go back from the US. You can extend the stay if required.

    Predict your chances of studying MS in US

    List of documents required for filling DS 160 form

    The DS 160 Form filling is perhaps one of the lengthiest forms one can fill out, and there are so many answers to be filled in. If someone thinks they need more time to fill or need more documents to complete the form, they can save it as a DS 160 form pdf and start filling it out again.

    So, let’s see the long list of documents that one needs to fill out the form:

    • I-20 Form - International students are given an I-20 by the Designated School Official (DSO) when they are accepted for a course at the university. The DS 160 form filling can’t start before getting an I-20. 
    • SEVIS-ID - SEVIS or the Student Exchange Visitor Information System is located at the top left corner of the I-20 form. It is an alphanumeric number.
    • Valid Passport
    • Travel history to the US - If an individual has already visited the US in the past, they have to mention the last five dates on which they traveled. The international travel history of the last five years might be asked, so one must keep the details about them handy.
    • Travel itinerary - The travel dates and end dates are mentioned on the I-20 form for student visa applicants. The I-20 form gives all the details about the beginning of the course and the date on which it will end. So, one needs to fill in all the details correctly from the I-20 visa.
    • Details on employment - The US authorities want to know the present status of the visa applicant. So, the working professionals have to give the details of their employment status. 
    • Photograph - The visa applicants have to upload their digital photographs at the time of the application process. There are certain requirements of the photo that the applicants have to ensure.



    Minimum acceptable dimensions are 600 x 600 pixels. Maximum acceptable dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels


    Must be in color (24 bits per pixel) in sRGB color space

    File Format

    The image must be in JPEG file format

    File Size

    The image must be less than or equal to 240 kB (kilobytes)


    The compression ratio should be less than or equal to 20:1.


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    Fees for DS 160 form

    • The fee for the DS 160 form is USD 185, and this is the first set of fees that one has to pay to get an F1 visa for studying at universities in US
    • For temporary work visas, the fee is USD 190. 
    • Students often confuse the DS 160 form with the fees they have paid for Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which is USD 350. There is no additional payment for scheduling the interview at the consulate or the embassy.


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    DS 160 form application process

    • Visit the website of Consular Electronic Application Center, part of the Department of State website, and click “start a new application” to begin the process. There are options to retrieve an application and upload an older application.
    • You may write down the ID because if you stop working on the application, your session expires after 20 minutes.
    • This section is a long and detailed one. The details required include personal, professional, and contact data.
    • Fill out the details and sign them digitally.
    • An alpha-numeric barcode confirmation page will be generated once the DS 16 form is completed. Applicants must take its printout and bring it for the interview. 
    • After getting the barcode confirmation page printed, you can hit “back,” and you will get the PDF of the form in your email.


    Children under 16 years and people with disabilities can take help from parents/local guardians/anyone else. If a third party is involved in submitting the form, it must be documented in the “Sign and Submit” part. The third-party can sign and submit on behalf of the applicant.

    DS-160 form application process


    DS-160 form application process 


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    Family/group application facility in DS 160

    When traveling to the US with family or friends, a family/group application saves the applicants from filling out the same details in all the applications. The data will be imported automatically to the applications. Note that every member must apply individually.

    Select “Email Confirmation” on the confirmation page. There will be a redirection to the “Thank You” page. On the “Thank You” page, there will be the option to create a family/group application.

    What after filling out the DS 160 form?

    Once the DS 160 form is submitted, the applicant is expected to make an appointment at the consulate or the embassy (in New Delhi) at the earliest. Sometimes the visa officials might ask for additional information, so scheduling an early appointment gives the time to rectify any error or submit additional documents if required.

    One can choose to take the interview in English or in one of the regional languages offered by the consulates. The final step in the study abroad application journey can be stressful, given the high US visa rejection rates. Increase your visa approval chances and sign up for US visa application assistance.

    After the completion of the interview, it takes around 3-5 weeks to get the confirmation on the student visa finally. If the information is correct and there are no issues with the visa application, then the chances are high that the applicant will get the F1 visa. After the formal approval, the US visa is delivered in the next two to three working days. There is always confusion about the location where the interview will be conducted, and it must be kept in mind that the interview location can be changed to a different consulate or to the New Delhi embassy than the one mentioned in the DS 160 form.

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    Validity of DS 160 form

    Once you fill out a DS 160 form, you can edit the form when you want to visit the US later. This form will be there in the consulate’s system. While filling once you get your application ID, the DS 160 is valid for 30 days. You can access it in the draft section.

    Know more on: How to change university after visa appointment booking?


    Frequently asked questions

    How to fill out a DS-160 form online? 

    You may fill out the DS-160 form online by following the steps given below: 

    • Visit the Consular Electronic Application Center website.
    • Create and log in to your account.
    • Complete the security question and answer the questions.
    • Upload the DS-160 Form photo as per the size and format regulations. 
    • Review and submit the form.

    How to change DS-160 after booking the US visa interview? 

    Follow the instructions given below to change DS-160 after booking a visa interview: 

    • Log in to the DS-160 portal and select the “Retrieve an application” option.
    • Enter your application ID and personal information.
    • Now you can see the form. Make necessary changes and submit it again. 

    Take a printout of the new confirmation page and bring it with you for the visa interview. 

    Do we need to submit a photo for DS-160? 

    Yes, applicants must submit a photo for DS-160 digitally. Follow the instructions regarding the photo, some of which are provided here: 

    • The photo must be in colour and black and white photos are not allowed
    • Eyeglasses are not allowed unless there is a medical urgency. 
    • The photo must be recent, taken within 6 months prior to the time of application

    How can I sign DS-160 form? 

    You must sign the DS-160 form for your application to be considered valuable. You can sign the DS-160 form electronically by clicking on the “Sign Application” button at the end of the DS-160 form. 

    Should I bring the entire application form for the US visa interview?

    First published date: 16 Dec 2020

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About author

Vishakha Bhagia
Interest in Finance with a flair for writing, Vishakha has written on education loans and the study abroad field for the last two years with articles published in Times of India, Outlook India, The Hindu, and many more publications.

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