Complete Guide to DS 260 and DS 261| North Loop Official Blog
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20 Nov 2020

Complete Guide to DS 260 and DS 261

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Introduction -

As an immigrant wanting to enter the United States, there is a multitude of forms that you might come across. That can make it quite difficult for you to understand which one should get filed and for what reasons. In this article, we will talk about two forms DS 260 and DS 261 that are used for immigrant visa application purposes and get filled exclusively online.

What is DS 260?

So what is DS 260? DS 260 form is referred to as an immigrant visa application and gets used to opt for marriage-based green cards. This form can get filed from anywhere in the world and handled through your local US Consulate or Embassy and the NVC (National Visa Centre). DS 260 form is quite similar to the Form I 864 but, unlike the latter, DS 260 can get filled online.

Also, this form becomes applicable if you are an immigrant who is looking for permanent residency. That means if you are a traveller or someone who wants to go to the US for business purposes temporarily, then this form is not for you. However, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and your application gets approved, you can get a permanent residency status before you even enter the US.

What is DS 261 form?

The purpose of the DS 261 form is to establish a communication line between the applicant and the NVC. It contains your contact details as well as other kinds of information that helps the state department to communicate with you during the application process. Since mostly the application gets done from another country, it acts as a crucial element for successful communication.

About the National Visa Centre -

The NVC or the National Visa Centre is a government office located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire which processes green card applications made from outside the borders of the US. You can use the NVC inquiry form to apply for a visa from overseas through your local consulate or embassy. Also, this NVC inquiry form can get accessed online.

After the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) approves the family sponsorship form or I-130, they send the paperwork to the NVC, and the DS 260 application gets transferred to the US Department of States from the US Department of Homeland Security.

DS 260 Processing Time -

After you have made the fee payment for the application form and it gets processed, the Electronic Application Centre of the NVC updates your fee invoices. However, the DS 260 processing time can take as much as a week, and you may not see your invoices immediately. To ensure that the process goes on smoothly, you can also take the help of an immigration attorney.

DS 260 instructions for filing -

After your payment gets processed, you can go online and fill the form DS 260, also known as the immigration application visa. The steps you should take are as follows -

The form DS 260 gets submitted online after the processing fee for the visa has been paid. That means you may have to wait a couple of days to access the form after the payment. But once you gain access to it, you can go to the CEAC page and use your DS 260 sign in details to log into your account.

While filling the form DS 260, you will have to answer several questions about your background, educational history, residency, and other family-related information.

Now that we have spoken about DS 260 instructions and DS 260 sign-in, let us look at some filing tips -

DS-260 filing tips -

Before submitting the form, you should make sure that you don’t leave any blanks or information missing as the CEAC system will not allow you to move forward.

Save your work frequently, preferably after completing each page. You should also avoid being idle for too long on the system, as it can get timed out leading to loss of data etc.

Avoid changing your address till your application gets processed, and you receive your green card.

Since you cannot make any changes after submitting the DS 260 form, it gets recommended that you proofread it well before doing so.

After you have submitted the form online, take a print out of the DS 260 confirmation page. This DS 260 confirmation page will get required during your interview at the Consulate of the United States.

DS 260 supporting documents -

Nationality proof

Copy of marriage certificate

Copy of military records (if applicable)

Copy of police certificate

Copy of marriage termination document (if applicable)

Conclusion -

To gain marriage-based US citizenship, it is necessary to get familiar with DS 260 and 26. If you feel uncertain or jittery about filling the form in the first attempt, you can also get a couple of DS 260 sample forms. DS 260 samples can give you an idea about the questions that get asked and help you to prepare in advance for the same.

You can also read other articles on our website about how to fill some of the commonly used forms such as DS 11, N 400, I-94, S 386 etc.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended be advice. You must obtain professional advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, investment or other professional advice from North Loop or its affiliates. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. All opinions expressed do not reflect the views of North Loop nor are endorsed by North Loop.