Happy Wayfarer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
When you fill out a DS-160 form, you are asked about the countries/regions within the last five years. For many people, this can be confusing, since it raises a few questions. First, do you need to mention the transit countries you have visited while traveling to a destination? Do you also need to mention your origin country in the list of countries or regions traveled? In this article, we will elaborate on these questions and a lot more.
Let’s start with what a DS-160 form is…
What is a DS-160 form?
The DS-160 application is the type of form required to be filled when traveling to the U.S. for the purpose of work, school, or even an extended period of travel. If you are a student looking to study in the U.S., filling the DS-160 form is a must for your F-1 student visa. For those who do not know what an F-1 visa is, it is a visa for international students willing to get enrolled in an academic degree.
All foreign nationals that apply for a visa stamp at a consulate or embassy of the U.S. government need to submit the DS-160 online before their interview for a visa is scheduled. Even dependents need to complete the DS-160 if they are seeking a visa.
Who needs to fill a DS-160 form?
If you’re going to the United States to work, study, or travel for an extended period of time, you’ll almost certainly require a visa. This will require you to fill a DS-160. Your DS-160 application comprises the essential information required by the US government to comprehend the purpose of your visit, evaluate whether you are safe to visit and plan how you will spend your time in the country. If you require a visa, you must complete a DS-160, which is the only application available for all visa kinds.
DS 160 – Have you traveled to any countries/regions?
The question is fairly simple. All you need to do is enter the list of countries you have traveled to in the past 5 years from your origin country. For example, if you are an Australian Citizen who has traveled from Australia to the United States or any other country, say India, Denmark, etc., in the past 5 years, mention that in the space given below after the question “Have you traveled to any countries/regions within the last five years?”.
If your origin country is Australia and you have been living in the U.S. for the past two years, within which period you traveled from the U.S. to Australia two times and to Mexico once, you will need to mention the United States and Mexico under the list of countries/regions traveled in the last five years.
This is because although you have been living in the U.S. for the past two years (possibly on an extended visa), you are still an Australian citizen who has traveled to the U.S. Thus, you will have to consider the U.S. as a country you have traveled to in the past 5 years.
The concept is simple: You will need to mention all countries and regions you have traveled to outside your home country.
Now, coming to the question of transit countries that you may need to make a stop at while traveling to your original destination, you may or may not mention them in the list of countries/regions you have traveled to in the last 5 years.
For example, if you travel between the U.S. and India through a transit country, say Denmark or France, you may or may not mention the transit country in the list.
You must fill in information if this relates to you and you check “yes.” Frequently, we are asked how complete you must be. “As comprehensive as possible,” says the answer. Examine your current and expired passports, as well as your trip records, and provide as detailed a list as possible.
While it’s understandable to be concerned about a previous business trip to some Middle Eastern countries because it may trigger an extra security check, it’s better to be thorough than to be confronted with an enraged US Consular official who believes you misled him or her by omitting information about travel to that country. If that happens they may want to conduct an extra security check, investigation request, or, worse yet, denial because of your failure to disclose this information.
Does the DS-160 form allow changes after you’ve submitted it?
What if you spot an error, such as the improper spelling of your own name or a reversal of your birthday in your DS-160? You can’t go back and redo the form in any visible way.
So what do you do? This is no time to freak out, either. A fresh, corrected DS-160 can be uploaded online, printed, and brought to your interview at the Embassy or Consulate if the State Department does not provide an option to go back and make changes to an already submitted DS-160.
Although an incorrect birth date or name is deemed a critical error, certain small errors may not have a significant impact on your application. Still, it’s a good idea to submit an updated DS-160 prior to your consular interview if possible.
After you’ve submitted your DS-160 form, how do you make any corrections?
The answer depends on how long it has been since you submitted our application online. Here is more about it.
Within 30 days of submitting your DS-160
Correcting the error may not be as difficult as you imagine. Determine how long it has been since you originally filed the application.
You can return to the DS-160 page on the CEAC website if it has been fewer than 30 days since you applied for a visa. Navigate to the “Retrieve an Application” menu. In order to proceed, you will need to enter the application ID number from the DS-160 you submitted previously. Hopefully, you have that number handy. Then, press the Retrieve Application button.
Next, select “Create an Application” in the dialogue box. To get back into your form, you’ll need to answer a few security questions. Once you’re in, rectify your mistake, then check the application, then electronically sign and submit it. For the day of your visa interview, you must print off and carry your updated confirmation and bar code.
After 30 days of submitting your DS-160
It’s possible to re-upload a previously filed application to CEAC that contained an error if it’s been more than 30 days since you originally submitted it. Click “Upload an Application” on the CEAC website, then select the consulate or embassy from the drop-down menu and click the “Upload an Application” button. Upload your file by clicking on the Upload Data icon.
After you’ve made your modifications, save and submit the application again. A fresh confirmation with a bar code will be provided to you.
After 30 days, if you haven’t saved your initial application, you will have to start over from scratch. Fill out a new DS-160 form on the CEAC website. This new application’s confirmation page should be printed.
A step-by-step guide to filling the DS-160 form
Here is a step-by-step guide on completing the DS-160 form:
Step 1: Decide the visa category that applies to you.
The purpose of the anticipated trip to the United States, as well as other variables, will decide which visa is necessary under US immigration rules. Consult your immigration counsel if you’re unsure which visa you’ll require.
Step 2: Collect the documentation you’ll need to finish the DS-160.
To finish the DS-160, gather the necessary documents:
- Passport must be present for at least six months beyond the date of entry into the United States. Because a CBP officer may abbreviate your stay in the United States to match your passport expiration date at the time of your arrival, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the validity period stated in your application.
- Digital image of your photograph (a color photograph with a white background taken within the last six months).
- If you already have confirmed travel dates, provide an itinerary; otherwise, you can provide approximate travel dates. Your deadline has passed (the date you plan to leave the U.S. should not exceed the requested validity end date of your application or petition).
- If you have previously traveled to the United States, you must specify the last five (5) dates or visits you took to the country. You may also be asked to supply information from the last five years.
- Social Media Account – You must provide information about every social media account you’ve used in the last five years, including the name and URL of each account, as well as your username. It is not necessary for you to provide the password. Please keep in mind that all dependents will be required to supply information about their social media accounts.
- You may be asked to give information about your education and work background in your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV). Before including your résumé with a visa application, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney.
- F, J, and M: Students and Exchange Visitors You must submit your latest SEVIS ID (found on your I-20 or DS-2019) as well as the address of the school or program where you plan to study or train.
- Petition-based H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, and E2C Temporary Workers: You’ll need a copy of your Form I-797 approval notification, Form I-129, or Form I-129S (if USCIS has previously accepted your application) (Blanket L-1).
Step 3: Note the Application ID
Note down the Application ID displayed on the DS-160’s top right-hand corner, or save the DS-160 to your computer.
Step 4: Finish the DS-160.
Fill out the responses completely and precisely according to the directions on each page. N/A (not applicable) is an option (where allowed and if appropriate). All responses must be written in English and follow the English alphabet. Before submitting the form, you will have the opportunity to review your responses to all questions.
Step 5: Complete the DS-160 electronically and sign it.
To sign your application electronically, click the “Sign Application” button and then the “Submit” button. After you’ve submitted the form, you’ll see a confirmation page with a barcode on your screen.
Step 6: Make a copy of the Confirmation Page with the Barcode and print it.
You’ll need to save a copy of the confirmation page with the barcode in a safe location because you’ll need to present it throughout the application process. Your visa may not be processed if you do not have the confirmation page.
5 Tips for Filling out Your DS-160 Form
Filling out a DS-160 form is an onerous and exhaustive task at times. Here are some tips that might come in handy when working with DS-160:
Keep your application number in mind.
Your application number is the key to accessing everything in DS-160. You will not be able to recover a lost application from a session timeout or return to your application at a later point if you do not have the application number with you.
Consequently, the first and most crucial recommendation is to keep your application number in mind (e.g., write it down on sticky notes, post it on the fridge, store it on your phone, and memorize it). In the meantime, it could be a good idea to do the same thing for the security questions you’ve already answered.
Timeouts should be treated with patience.
You are practically guaranteed to get thrown off of the system if you receive a timeout notification. In recent months, it has been apparent that the mechanism that handles the online apps is not very precise when it comes to determining how long you have been idle. As a result, it may terminate your DS-160 session even if you only paused for a moment to go over some documents or anything else.
Because of this, it is recommended that you set aside at least half a day to complete this application. If you are kicked off the site a couple of times, this should provide you with some breathing room.
Prepare your information and documents so that they are readily available.
There are numerous documents and pieces of information that you will need to complete your DS-160 form. It is almost mandatory that you have all of these items ready and available before you begin working on your application form. Otherwise, the day you set aside for this will morph into a mad dash to find out what happened to the old information.
This will almost probably result in a higher number of session timeouts than you would prefer.
Another tip to make this process even easier is to type up all of the information you’ll need on a notepad on your computer before you start the process. This simplifies the process of just copying and pasting the information into the application form.
Make certain that your digital photograph satisfies the requirements.
Your DS-160 will be completed once you have submitted a digital photograph. It is critical that this photo meets all of the requirements, or else your application will not be accepted for consideration.
In order to qualify, your photo must have a plain background, for example. You may even upload your photo to the website and check that it has been cropped correctly using this convenient feature.
- What Should You Do if Your Passport Wasn’t Stamped on Arrival in the US?
- Can You Leave the U.S. Without a Passport?
- What to Put Under Occupation for a Passport?
- What is an Issuing Country or Passport Issuing Country?
- Does your passport number change when you renew it?
- What is the purpose of the sticker in a British passport?
- A 52-page United States passport vs. a Regular passport?
- What should you do with an expired passport?
- What happens if your passport photo is rejected in the UK?
- What does the Passport application locator number mean?