Ask the Consul: Filling in the new DS-160 application form

  • Is the new DS-160 application form more difficult to fill in than the old visa application?

More information is available as “Frequently Asked Questions” on the U.S. State Department’s web page: Additional information on the visa application process is available on U.S. Embassy Bridgetown’s website at

It may seem more difficult to fill in at first, however the new DS-160 application form requires essentially the same information as previous application forms. The new DS-160 must be filled out completely and correctly before it can be submitted. In this sense, the new form is more demanding than the old one, but this process helps smooth the application process by ensuring that each applicant arrives at the Consular section with a correct, completed application.

Here are some tips for working with the DS-160:

  • Be well prepared before you begin filling out the DS-160. Have your passport handy, and information about your education, work, travel history, and family available before you start.
  • Make sure to write down your Application ID (top right hand corner) immediately after you start your application. When you are working on your application, it will be automatically saved each time you click the “Next” button. However, if you need to stop work on the application and restart at a later day, you can use the Application ID to retrieve the unsubmitted application for 30 days. To complete your application after 30 days, you can permanently save the application to a disk or to your hard drive. Once you have completed the saved form, you can enter the website again and upload the completed application.
  • The person applying for the visa is the “principal applicant.” If you are filling out the application on behalf of someone else, like your child, you should answer the questions from the point of view of that person.
  • The DS-160 asks questions based on your gender, age, and the reason for the trip. First, the purpose of your travel is important – is it for business, to be a student, to work, or to travel as a tourist? Your full name must be spelled correctly, exactly as listed in your passport. Your age and gender must be correct. Please take the time to ensure that these are filled out correctly. If you do not, you may be turned away at the Consulate and asked to refill your form correctly on the Internet before returning.
  • The application asks you to upload a digital photo but if you can’t, don’t worry. You can bypass the photo upload process by doing the following: On your computer, go to “My Documents,” then to “My Pictures,” then to “Sample Pictures.” Select any of the sample pictures in that folder (e.g. the water lilies or sunset). Select “Open” then “Upload Photo.” An error message will appear with the option to continue without a photo. Select that option and move on with your application. Bring a 2”x2” photo that meets photo quality standards with you to the interview. Photo requirements are outlined on the Embassy’s website. Even if you were able to successfully upload a digital photo, we still recommend you bring a copy of the photo to your interview.

The DS-160 is designed to be user-friendly. You should be able to fill it out using a computer with internet access at your home, or at the home of a friend. If you are having a little trouble, perhaps you can engage the help of family or friends. You may think that you need to pay someone to help, however we suggest you look at the people around you as resources to help.

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