DS-160 Visa Application
What is the DS-160 visa application?
The DS-160 is the official application for non-immigrant (i.e. temporary) visas to the United States, including the E-3.
Preliminary step: prepare an appropriate photo
The DS-160 application requires you to upload a U.S. passport-size photo with your application. The U.S. passport photo is a different size from the Australian version, so you will need to take this into account. If you are already in the U.S. you can get passport photos taken and printed at most Duane Reade pharmacies, or you can take your own photo and crop it to the right size. The U.S. State Department has a helpful guide for U.S. photo requirements, including a tool to upload and crop your own photo to the right size.
What documents should I have with me to complete the DS-160?
You should have the following documents and information with you when you complete the DS-160:
- Travel itinerary to the U.S.1
- The dates of your last five trips to the U.S. (if applicable) and international travel history for the past five years 2
- Resume or CV, for information about your education and work history.
- University academic transcript, for your study/graduation information.
- Australian Tax File Number.
- U.S. employer’s name, address, phone number and primary contact details.
OK, where do I complete the DS-160?
You can access the application form here.
To get started, select the location where you plan on interviewing for the visa from the drop-down menu3 and click “Start An Application”. You should consider the estimated waiting times for visa interviews when deciding on location as they vary by embassy and time of year. You can view the estimated waiting times on this site.
Some examples of cities where Australians have successfully obtained E-3 visas are:4:
- Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Sydney)
- Austria (Vienna)
- Barbados (Bridgetown)
- Canada (Montreal, Ottowa, Toronto, Vancouver)
- Colombia (Bogota)
- Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo)
- France (Paris)
- Greece (Athens)
- Japan (Tokyo)
- Mexico (Mexico City)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- Spain (Madrid)
- United Kingdom (London)
When you start your visa application, you’ll receive an application ID and be asked to enter a security question. Make sure you record the application ID and the answer to your security question. If you don’t and your session expires or you need to close the browser before submitting your application, you’ll have to start over.
Now for the application itself. I’ll step through each page of the online application here, but because it is pretty straightforward I’ll limit my comments to the important and/or confusing items.
Page 1: Personal Information 1
This is all standard information, just make sure your details match up with your passport. A couple of notes:
- “Full Name in Native Alphabet” – tick “does not apply.”
- “Do you have a telecode that represents your name” – select “No”.
- ”City of birth” – use the place of birth from your passport, even though it’s likely a suburb.
Page 2: Personal Information 2
- ”National Identification Number” – this is your Australian tax file number.
- ”U.S. Social Security Number” – tick “does not apply.”
- ”U.S. Taxpayer I.D. Number” – tick “does not apply.”
Page 3: Address and Phone Information
Insert your Australian home address and mailing address. If you’re traveling, use your parents’ or a relative’s address. You also need to enter your phone number and email address.
Page 4: Passport information
- For passport/travel document type, select “regular.”
- Tick “does not apply” when it asks for your book number.
- For the place of issue, select Canberra. Most new passports are issued in Canberra unless your passport states otherwise.
Important note: Your passport or travel document must have at least six months of validity beyond your period of intended stay in the U.S. If you’re applying for a two-year E-3 visa, make sure your passport satisfies this requirement. If your passport has ever been lost or stolen, you will also need to explain that on this page.
Page 5: Travel Information
- For “Purpose of trip to the U.S.,” select “Treaty Trader or Investor (E)” from the drop-down menu and specify “Australian in spec. Occupation (E3).”
- ”Are you in possession of an approved Labor Condition Application?” – if you’ve received your authorized LCA, insert your LCA number, or check no if you haven’t got it back yet.5
- If you’ve made flight plans to the U.S., enter those here. If you don’t have a leaving flight, put your departure date as a date two years after your date of entry to align with your two-year visa, and put the departure city as where you’ll be living (e.g. New York). If you haven’t made travel plans put in your intended date of arrival and select two years as the length of your intended stay.
- ”Person/Entity Paying for Your Trip – If you’re ponying up the cash for this trip, select “Self”. If someone else is paying for the trip6, fill in the required information.
- “Address Where You Will Stay in the U.S.” – enter whichever address you’ll be staying at when you arrive in the U.S. Hotel, apartment, friend’s place, wherever.
Page 6: Travel Companions Information
If there are other people traveling with you, enter their information. If not, click no and move to the next page.
Page 7: Previous U.S. Travel Information
- “Have you ever been to the U.S.” – fill out the information for your last five visits. If you don’t remember the exact dates, just enter approximate dates. You can access the U.S. travel history on your current passport from this website.
- “Have you ever been issued a U.S. Visa?” – the ESTA is not a visa. It is a visa-waiver program. So if you’ve only ever traveled to the US on the ESTA, select “No” here.
- “Have you ever been refused a U.S. Visa, or been refused admission to the United States, or withdrawn your application for admission at the port of entry?” – select whatever applies to you. Hopefully it’s a “No”.
- “Have you ever been denied travel authorization by the Department of Homeland Security through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?” – again, hopefully this is a “No”.
- “Has anyone ever filed an immigrant petition on your behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services?” – select the appropriate response. The likely answer is “No”.
Page 8: U.S. Point of Contact Information
Your U.S. Point of Contact can be any individual in the U.S. who knows you and can verify, if necessary, your identity. If you do not personally know anyone in the U.S., you may enter the name of your employer. I used my boss at work as the point of contact, and entered my work address, work phone number and my boss’s work email for the “Address and Phone Number of Point of Contact”.
Page 9: Family Information
- You will need to enter the surnames, given names and dates of birth (if known) of your parents. You also need to select whether they are in the U.S. and, if so, what their status is in the country.
- “Do you have any immediate relatives, not including parents, in the United States?” – if “Yes”, you need to enter their information and detail their relationship to you. “Immediate relatives” means a fiancé/fiancée, spouse (husband/wife), child (son/daughter), or sibling (brother/sister).
Page 10: Present Work/Education/Training Information
Select your primary occupation from the dropdown list and fill out details of your current employment. If your current employer is not in the list then select “Other” and fill out the details. If your status is “Not Employed” you need to select that option and explain why. For example, I resigned to travel and look for employment in the United States.”
Page 11: Previous Work/Education/Training Information
- ”Were you previously employed?” – if applicable, provide your employment information for the last five years that you were employed. You can only enter two jobs, so select the two most recent. You need to fill out the employment details, job title, job supervisor’s name, employment dates and briefly describe your job duties.
- ”Have you attended any educational institutions at a secondary level or above?” – fill out the details of your university and high school education. For high school, put “Academic” as your course of study. The dates of attendance can be approximate, but you should use your graduation dates for university that are on your academic transcript. If you studied two university courses (e.g. Law and Commerce; Arts and Science; then add another section and enter the second course information.
Page 12: Additional Work/Education/Training Information
- ”Do you belong to a clan or tribe?” – choose whatever is applicable to you, but this is likely “No”.
- Provide a list of the languages you speak.
- ”Have you traveled to any countries/regions within the last five years?” – list out all of the countries you have visited in the last five years.
- ”Have you belonged to, contributed to, or worked for any professional, social, or charitable organization?” – this includes industry organizations and the like.
- ”Do you have any specialized skills or training, such as firearms, explosives, nuclear, biological, or chemical experience?” – fill out as applicable to you.
- ”Have you ever served in the military?” – fill out as applicable.
- ”Have you ever served in, been a member of, or been involved with a paramilitary unit, vigilante unit, rebel group, guerrilla group, or insurgent organization?” – select “No”.7
Pages 13 to 17: Security and background Parts 1 to 5
These pages ask a range of questions about your background and current status. For example, do you have a communicable disease, are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict, have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, are you a member of a terrorist organization? Ideally you can select “No’ for all of these. 8
Page 18: Temporary Work Visa Information
You need to provide basic information about your U.S. employer.
Page 19 and 20: Upload Photo / Confirm Photo
Upload your photo. This is the U.S. passport size photo I referred to at the beginning of this section.
Pages 21 to 28 – Review
These pages ask you to review the information you entered in the application.
Page 29 – Sign and Submit
- Did anyone assist you in filling out this application? – answer No.
- Certify that the information you have provided is true and correct.
- Enter your passport number and the code shown on the page, then click submit.
Application complete. Make sure that you print the barcoded confirmation page. This is really important – you will need the barcode page for your visa interview. You should also make sure you receive the emailed copy of the confirmation page in your inbox before you leave the application page.
If you want some further information about the DS-160, you can also check out the U.S. State Department FAQ.
OK, now for the interview.9