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DS-260 Form and Instructions – Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC)

DS-260 Form and Instructions – Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC)

Filing Your DS-260 Form: What You Need to Know

Applying for your green card is exciting. When you are ready to file for a green card, you are welcoming new opportunities into your life both personally and professionally. However, this journey can be a long and extremely complicated one. So when you are ready to submit your Form DS-260, it means that you’ve worked hard on your path to applying for a green card.

What Is Form DS-260?

Form DS-260 is the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application that you will use to apply for your green card if you are applying from outside the United States. Filing will go through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the National Visa Center (NVC).

Form DS-260 is also referred to as the Online Immigrant Visa Registration Application. This means that you are applying to officially become a permanent resident.

You can complete Form DS-260 online when the National Visa Center allows for the final paperwork to be completed.

What Is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is the process of filing for a green card from outside of the United States. You will apply for consular processing if you are applying for an immigrant visa or lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Alternatively, if you apply from within the United States, you will apply through an adjustment of status.

Starting the Process for Your DS-260 Application With USCIS

To begin the consular process, you will submit an immigrant visa petition to USCIS. Common forms include:

When USCIS receives your visa, you will be sent a receipt. USCIS will review your visa application and decide whether you are approved, denied, or if there is a need for a request for further evidence. The timeline for your approval will depend on the type of visa you apply for.

Speak with your immigration attorney for dates based on your individual visa application. Once your visa petition is approved, USCIS will send your paperwork to the National Visa Center.

What Is the National Visa Center?

Once USCIS approves your petition, they will send your application to the National Visa Center (NVC). Upon receiving your paperwork, the NVC will then notify you via mail or email, depending on your mode of application. It usually takes around a month or more for your case to get from USCIS to the NVC.

The NVC is part of the U.S. Department of State. The NVC coordinates the second step in your visa processing, taking on the case instead of the U.S. Embassy because you are applying from abroad.

The welcome notice that the NVC will send you will include:

  • An invoice number
  • Your case number
  • A beneficiary ID number

Hang on tight to these numbers, as they will be needed later on in your process when you submit forms to the Consular Electronic Application Center. Take note, however, just because your visa is delivered to the NVC does not mean that your visa application will be processed right away. It will depend on the type of visa and your State Department’s visa bulletin priority date. This is similar to your original USCIS visa application.

When Do I File DS-260 Online?

The National Visa Center will send you an invitation to file your DS-260 form online through the Consular Electronic Application Center.

Before You File Your DS-260 Form

Once you are approved by the National Visa Center to begin your green card immigrant visa process, there are multiple steps you need to follow to complete your journey.

Filing Form DS-261

The DS-261 application is relatively simple. Essentially, the DS-261 form gives the State Department details on how to reach you. Form DS-261 must be processed before you start filing your DS-260. Processing time is around three weeks. The DS-261 form itself is free to file.

Fees and Costs

Although the DS-261 form is free, you will need to submit payments for your DS-260 before filing. In fact, your DS-260 will not even be accessible until you pay the fees. Fees include:

  • DS-260 online processing fee of $325
  • Affidavit of Support processing fee of $120
  • Total required fees of $445

The NVC will process your payment roughly a week after you submit your payments online. Fee invoices will appear at the Consular Electronic Application Center.

Submit Your Affidavit of Support

Depending on the visa you petitioned for, a family member will need to file Form I-184, Affidavit of Support.

An affidavit of support is a type of contract. The family member filing the affidavit sponsors you by agreeing to pay the U.S. government if you—the beneficiary—needs to financially depend on the government. The family member signs a contract to pay the government back any costs it pays out (such as welfare costs).

If you need assistance with your affidavit of support, the experienced lawyers at our law firm are happy to help. For instances such as affidavits of support, it’s always beneficial to have a knowledgeable attorney review your form to ensure correct completion.

Filing Your DS-260 Application

Once you’ve completed your pre-filing steps of filing your DS-261, paying filing fees, and submitting your affidavit of support, if required, you will then be notified by the NVC when to file your DS-260 form.

You will visit the Consular Electronic Application Center on the Department of State’s website and proceed to your DS-260 login. To do so, you will need your:

  • Case identification number
  • Beneficiary ID number
  • NVC invoice number from your original welcome letter

You will be asked questions about:

  • Your name and other biographical questions
  • Places you have lived
  • Social media accounts
  • Your children

Most questions that you will be asked are straightforward. If you are nervous, do not worry. Answer questions honestly and make sure you have consistent answers on your form for when you prepare for your interview.

Tips for Filing DS-260 Form

Take the following tips into account when filing your DS-260 application:

  • The form must be filled out in English, so make sure you are prepared to do so. If necessary, work with a legal translator or your petitioner. Since the English language is written in the Roman alphabet, all characters that are written in another alphabet must be transliterated.
  • Even if your children are considered adults, are stepchildren, or are adopted, include all information about all of your children.
  • Include each address you lived at in full, even your addresses that were not permanent addresses.
  • Make sure all of your social media accounts list consistent information throughout. The U.S. government will look at your online presence, so having consistency as well as positive online behavior is important.
  • Make sure your DS-260 online form is filled out correctly in full. You cannot go back and correct information once it is submitted. If you do find an error on your DS-260 form, tell the consular officer and request a correction at your interview.

DS-260 Instructions: Additional Forms Needed

You will send additional forms to the NVC after getting your DS-260 receipt confirmation. The NVC will instruct you on what documents you need to give them, as well as how to get those documents. Forms may include copies of your:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Military records
  • Police clearance letters
  • Affidavit of support
  • Marriage certificate
  • Marriage termination documents
  • Proof of address and/or ID from your sponsor
  • All other documents specific to your application as requested by the NVC

Make sure you send in all of your supporting documents as soon as possible. Remember that your documents should be copies of the original documents, although you do want to have the originals on hand to bring to your interview.

After Filing DS-260

The NVC will schedule your visa interview appointment date and time. Though different countries may have varying requirements, you should prepare for your interview by:

  • Scheduling your medical examination by a U.S. government-approved doctor
  • Registering for courier service
  • Bringing all required documents, like those listed above, and additional forms

After filing your DS-260 online application, it is essential to print out your DS-260 confirmation page. Bring it with you to the U.S. Consulate for your visa interview.

If you are wondering what the DS-260 confirmation page is, it is the final page that you will receive after you submit your DS-260 form. If you have questions about how to access this page, reach out to your immigration attorney right away.

DS-260 Final Steps

You will go to your U.S. Consulate for your visa interview. If the consular office approves your DS-260 form, you can then prepare to go to the United States! You will pay a final USCIS immigrant fee of $220. The final fee covers your green card production and mailing costs. Be sure to pay this fee right away so you can receive your green card as soon as possible in the U.S.

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

Filing your DS-260 is the final step towards receiving your green card when you file from abroad. If you need help with this process or any of the other steps leading up to this final action, reach out to the experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C.

We are here to help guide you through your immigration journey. Call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online form today! We look forward to working with you.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!