New online US visa format to ease travel

Disclosing details of the new visa form at a press conference here on Thursday evening, Andrew T  Simkin, the US Consul General in Chennai, said the new procedure to apply for NIVs to go to the US is not in paper form anymore.

Stating that the latest ‘DS-160’ incorporates in one form all existing three visa forms in a user-friendly, rationalised on-line application procedure, Simkin said it represented one more step by the US Government towards e-government and going green.

The new procedure is an interactive computer programme “which asks you different questions depending on the information you give at each step and is a customised form that asks questions according to your situation at the end of the procedure,” Simkin and Brain Dalton, Chief of the Consular Section, said. The questions will depend on whether the applicant is a student, going for business or is on a pleasure trip and so on. The new form should help to make process more efficient and would reduce the time to get a ‘visa appointment’ in Chennai to just two days.

For all ‘visa appointments’ starting from February 1, 2010, applicants will need to fill out the new ‘DS-160’ form which will be available online from January 19, 2010, Simkin said.

One form
The information content required for the new form will basically remain the same, but it is only one form to be filled up and everybody fills up the same form. But DS-160 “asks the same questions in a smart, streamlined format,” said Dalton to a query.

With the new form, the applicant will be required to upload a visa photograph, but the US Consul will do that if the applicant faced difficulties initially to upload their picture electronically, Dalton said.

The new forms as per existing procedure are also submitted online through the Internet, but now the applicants need to print just one ‘confirmation page’ upon completion of the ‘DS-160’ form, he said.

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