Traveling to the United States with the intention of living permanently or just visiting takes a series of processes. The processes typically involve filling out and submitting several immigrant visa applications for lawful admission into the country.

Form DS-260 is one of those immigration forms; it is an online immigrant visa application form intended for individuals and family members. The DS-260 form is for individuals living outside the U.S. and intending to become marriage-based green card holders or get a Diversity Visa.

The Immigrant Visa Application is also designed for permanent residents who are traveling to the United States with the intention to stay. If you’re applying for a spousal visa, you will be required to fill out and file Form DS-260.

The form covers questions from different aspects of your life, including the places you’ve resided, education history, and others. This article contains pieces of important information you’ll find very helpful throughout your immigrant visa application process.

Who Needs to Fill Out DS-260?

Individuals and family members applying for a marriage-based or family-based green card from outside the U.S. need to fill out form DS-260 online. The National Visa Center, NVC and the US embassy in your region handle the application.

The “immigrant” in “Immigrant Visa Application” means a lawful permanent resident, not someone traveling to the U.S. temporarily. You’d fill out and submit the form once the USCIS has approved your I-130, submitted DS-261, and paid the required fees.

What Is the DS-261 Used For?

Form DS-261 is the first form to fill out and submit before the DS-260. The DS-261 is also called Online Choice for Address and Agent for choosing how to communicate with the government agency.

Form DS-261 lets you choose the notification method you want the Department of State to use throughout the application process. It is a free, simple online form you’ll fill out on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website portal.

Does a K1 Visa Need DS-260?

A K1 visa applicant doesn’t need DS-260; they are required to complete an online paperless form, DS-160 instead. The DS-160 is a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application that K1 visa applicants are required to fill out online.

After filling out and filing this form, they can continue to use the I-129F petition form. On the contrary, the DS-260 is the primary green card application for family members living abroad, issued by the DOS.

How Long Does It Take for the NVC to Process DS-260

The NVC would normally take three months to process DS-260, but the time frame varies with the case. How long you wait before submitting the form can also decide the processing time; the longer the later.

The time it takes the NVC to process your DS-260 can also depend on your relationship with your sponsor and their immigration status. The field office processing the immigration case, the case’s complication level, and how quickly you reply to government notices also factor.

Who Should File the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative?

The first step in an alien registration application is filing the petition through Form I-130 with the DHS and USCIS. The foreign national spouse’s resident or U.S. citizen files the form with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

There is currently no age limit for a U.S. sponsor filing a petition for his or her spouse, but they must be 18 at least. If the U.S. citizen is living abroad, they can file an immigrant visa application outside the United States.

What Does an Immigrant Visa Applicant Need to Complete and Submit DS-260 Online?

Immigrant visa applicants seeking entrance into the United States for permanent residence need to file the DS-260 online form. To complete and submit this form online, you need your NVC case number, which should be in the notice NVC sent to you.

You also need your invoice I.D. number, also in the NVC notice, and a stable internet connection. If you’re filing for a Diversity Visa, you need your diversity visa case number, date of birth, and stable internet connection.

Can You Answer the Questions on Form DS-260 In Your Native Language?

If you don’t speak English, you may have some difficulties filling out Form DS-260. The NVC and USCIS require applicants to fill out the forms in English and with only English characters. Answering in another language other than English may result in the automatic rejection of the application.

Every visa application form you fill out for legal admission into the U.S. must be in English; your documents, too. That’s why the USCIS requires that applicants translate their documents written in their native dialects to English.

What Parts of the DS-260 Are Optional?

There are only a few fields marked “optional” on the DS-260; most fields are mandatory and require answers. Meanwhile, if there’s any field that doesn’t apply to you, you should find the “Does Not Apply” option.

Unless the field is marked “optional” or has the “Not Applicable” options, you’re expected to fill it out. You won’t be able to submit the form or it may be rejected if you leave any mandatory field blank.

Must You Fill Out DS-260 At One Sitting?

If you’re in the process of filling out Form DS-260 and need to step away, you can “Save” your progress first. You should find “Save” at the page’s bottom; click on it, and then click on the “Sign Out” button. All the information you’ve imputed will be saved until you return, thus you won’t have to start all over again.

Meanwhile, the CEAC portal will automatically log you off if your DS-260 application remains idle for twenty minutes at least. However, it will save all the data you entered up to the time you pressed “Save” is stored; other data will be lost.

What Are Tips for Filing DS-260?

Once you’ve paid the legal fees, you can go online to the CEAC portal to file DS-260 with these tips:

  • Have your case immigrant visa case number, beneficiary ID number, and invoice number from the notice the NVC sent to you.
  • Fill out the form in English and transliterate names and addresses that aren’t in the Roman alphabet.
  • Include details about your step, biological, and adopted children, regardless of their age and whether or not they are immigrating with you.
  • List all the addresses you physically lived since you turned sixteen, not just addresses you used as your official address.
  • Ensure the email address you provided stays valid and open throughout the application process.
  • Ensure all your information is correct because you can’t correct the DS-260 once submitted.
  • Print the confirmation page once you’ve submitted the form; you will need it for your immigrant visa interview.

When Do You Need to Submit the Supporting Documents?

The NVC will send you a receipt notice after you’ve submitted your DS-260 via email. Once you receive this notice, you’ll need to submit your supporting documents exactly the way the NVC requests.

It can be via upload, email, or mailing – depending on the consulate handling your case. The NVC gathers all your forms and applications and forwards them to the consulate while the U.S. consulate schedules and conducts the interview.

What Documents Does the Applicant Relative Need to Submit?

The applicant relative needs to submit the following supporting documents:

  • A copy of passport photo page and birth certificate to prove your nationality,
  • Civil documents such as marriage certificate for marriage green cards, marriage termination documents, including divorce decree or death certificates if you had previous marriages,
  • Military records where applicable and police certificates (or police clearance letters) showing past or lack of past criminal records.

What Documents Does the Sponsoring Family Member Need to Submit?

The supporting documents a sponsoring spouse or relative needs to submit after the NVC receives the DS-260 include:

  • Affidavit of support (I-864) to show that they can support their family member in the U.S.,
  • Marriage termination documents (such as divorce decrees or death certificates) for sponsors who were previously married,
  • Proof of significant ties in the United States; a state-issued ID or proof of address is usually sufficient for sponsors resident in the U.S.

What Is the Legal Fee for Filing DS-260?

The National Visa Center typically requires that you pay $325 as the online processing fee for DS-260. Then you’ll pay $120 to process the affidavit of support, bringing the legal fees to a total of $445.

It takes a week to process the online payments; you can access the form DS-260 only after the NVC processes your payments.

Should You Send Your Original Documents to the NVC?

If the NVC requests your documents by mail, you can’t send the original; you’ll make copies instead and send them. When you go for your green card interview, you can go with the original documents. It is important that you understand the notice sent to you and submit the required additional documents as directed.

How Long Till You Get Your Green Card After Filing Form DS-260?

You will pay a USCIS immigrant fee of $220 after the United State Citizenship and Immigration Service approves your visa. You should get an immigrant visa stamp on your passport, after which you can pay the required fee.

This final fee is majorly for the production and mailing of your physical green card, so paying online and on time is best. Once you enter the U.S. with the immigrant visa stamp, you may wait up to three weeks to get the card.

What Do You Need for Your Visa Interview?

After submitting the DS-260, the National Visa Center [NVC] will schedule your visa interview appointment and send the details to you, your sponsor, agent, or attorney. You will get your interview appointment letter with the priority date and specific guidance on how to prepare for the interview. That includes scheduling and attending a medical examination, registering for courier service, and gathering the documents requested for an interview.

If it is an immigrant visa petition, you will need to provide the relevant civil documents provided for in the visa bulletin. You must also establish why you think your green card application was wrongly denied.

If it is a marriage-based green card for foreign nationals, you can check in with the state department’s visa bulletin to know the qualification for every green card holder or individuals who seek to be a permanent resident in the United States.

Upon reviewing the necessary documents to be supplied by an individual who wants to be a permanent resident, if you still don’t understand the process, then, you may have to reach out to an experienced immigration lawyer to help you with the permanent resident status.

Contact Herman Legal Group

Do you need help with filling out the DS-260 and DS-261 forms because you are confused on how to go about it? Are you planning to apply for the DS-260 immigrant visa but don’t know the documents that should accompany your forms DS-260 and DS-261? Then, you can contact Herman Legal Group today to help you, and you can be sure to have everything covered.

With several years of experience, we can help with family-based green cards, permanent resident card, and the DS-260 immigrant visa. We can also review your documents like military record, death certificate, or other things that will be required by immigration officials at the state department. You can schedule a consultation with us today by calling by booking online.


If you’re filling out the DS-260 and DS-261 for the first time, you need the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney. You can face a consular officer more confidently when you let a standard law firm prepare you for your interview. You need to pay attention to the details of form DS-261 when filing it to avoid any error.

Once the immigration official approves the DS-260 application you submitted online, it means you’ve become a potential permanent residence card holder. The entire green card application process depends on your obedience to immigration law and the instructions the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and National Visa Center give you.

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