Complete Guide to DS-260 and DS-261 Forms
If you are not in the United States but are willing to apply for the green card, you can also apply for a green card from abroad. If you are in an abroad country, you can apply for a green card through consular processing, and you can attend the interview at the local US embassy or Consulate. In your green card application, DS-260 and DS-261 forms both play an important role. In order to get more detail about these forms to continue reading the guide.
Also ensure to hire choose certified Document Translation Services USA to translate all your supporting documents in English.
About National Visa Center (NVC)?
National Visa center is one of the Department of the US Department of State‘s bureau of consular affairs. It plays a vital role in handling the final stage of your green card application if you are applying for the green card from abroad country through consular processing.
Once USCIS approves your application form-130, then USCIS forwards your application to the National Visa Center. However, after that national Visa center will take over the responsibility to process the final stage of your green card case.
After receiving your case, the National Visa Center will first provide you the welcome letter through mail or email, based on the method of application that you selected while filling the application. The welcome letter will include information like a beneficiary ID number, invoice number, and a case identification number.
These details are essential to fulfill the online immigrant visa form and for paying the application fee. Then, by visiting the consular electronic application Center (CEAC), you can complete the visa form and pay the fee. In addition, visiting the consular electronic application Center (CEAC) website will provide you the access to fill the application form DS-260 and DS-261, which is required to be submitted to complete your application.
What is Form DS-261?
The welcome letter that you will receive from the national visa Center will also mention the instruction about how to submit the application form DS-261 called the online choice of address and agent. By filling this form, you can select how you wish the Department of State to contact you during your green card application process.
There is no charge for filing the application form DS-261, and the time taken by the National Visa Center to process your form will be somewhere between 2 to 3 weeks. In order to access the application form DS-261, you will be required to log in to your consular electronic application Center website through the case number provided to you by NVC.
What is Form DS-260?
Once you have completed and submitted the application form DS-261, you will then require paying the immigrant visa application processing fee, i.e., $325 and $120 for the affidavit of support fee. After that, you will be eligible to submit the form DS-260 by visiting the consular electronic application Center (CEAC) website.
Form DS-260 is defined as the immigrant visa and alien registration number application form. This online form needs to be submitted by the foreign nationals willing to request a family-based green card from a foreign country. After the National Visa Center approves your application form DS-260, you will proceed to apply for a marriage green card through the consular process.
When the applicant can submit forms DS-260 and DS-261?
You can only submit the application form DS-261 and DS-260 after the national Visa Center accepts your case and start processing it.
US citizenship and immigration service (USCIS) will first approve your I-130 petition and then send it to the NVC to handle further stages of the application process. Immediately after receiving the case, the National Visa Center will start processing the application for a green card for spouses of US citizens, but in the case of a US green card holder, the applicant has to wait for their priority date to get current.
This means the spouse of a US green cardholder will have to wait for at least 8 to 10 months for their priority date to get current on the Department of State Visa bulletin. Once your priority date is current, you can proceed with the other process of green card application.
Once the national Visa center starts handling your case, they will provide you the welcome letter either through mail or email. In the letter, you will find your case number, invoice number, and beneficiary ID number. You can use these details to access the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) online by filling the forms DS-261 and DS-260.
How should you file Form DS-261?
In order to submit the application form DS-261, you will first require logging in to the consular electronic application Center website using the case number that you have received from the national visa center (NVC) when they start handling your case.
After you have logged in, you will need to identify your relationship with the person sponsoring your green card. If you are submitting the form DS-261 on your own, you will have to select yourself as an applicant. However, if any third person is submitting the form on your behalf, then they will require selecting the option as petitioner.
Once you have visited the web page demanding to select an agent, the agent can be any person with whom the national Visa Center will contact throughout your green card application process. You can also be the agent; your friend, your green card sponsor, immigration lawyer or any other individual whom you can rely can also act as an agent.
It’s highly recommended to cross-verify your contact information before submission, as you cannot change the information once you have submitted the form.
Once the National Visa Center processes your form DS-261, which will take up to 3 weeks, you will have to process the payment of two filing fees; the first one is immigrant visa application fees, i.e., $325 and Affidavit of Support fee, i.e., $120.
In some of the cases, you do not have to pay the affidavit of support fee. You can check on the State Department website if you are required to pay the affidavit of support fee or not. The estimated time taken by NVC is a week to process your DS-261 form payment.
How should you file the form DS-260?
Once the national Visa Center process your DS-261 payment after then, you can proceed with filing the application form DS-260 online by visiting the CEAC website.
In order to get access to the form, you will require having the beneficiary ID number, invoice number and case identification number with you that you can find in the welcome letter that you received from the National Visa Center earlier. In the form, you will also be asked to mention the permanent address of the country where you lived from the age of 16. Therefore, ensure that you provide the permanent address not the temporary one.
Additionally, you will also have to mention the details about your social media account that you are using for the past five years. Always remember the information provided on your social media platform is correct and should be consistent.
Also, before giving details about your social media platform, you must keep your public details up to date, which can be visible to every audience reaches your account. Details like your correct name and marital status.
US immigration authority will inspect your account and ensure that you are not part of any group that threatens US security and spreads hatred for the United States. If so, your application will be immediately rejected.
While filling the form DS-260, you need to verify your relevant permanent address and mailing address. Permanent address means the address where you wish to live after immigrating to the United States. You will also need to choose the permanent address where you want the national visa center to mail your green card.
Always ensure the address you provide to the National Visa Center to receive the green card is the address where you had lived for several months. It might take time for the national Visa center to process the green card to your given US mailing address.
If you switch to any new mailing address in between the processing time of receiving the green card, then it’s your responsibility to contact the USCIS center to update your new mailing address.
The next thing that you need to provide in your form is that information about your family members. Always ensure to give information about all the family members. This includes all your stepchildren, biological children, and adopted children, no matter they are immigrating to the United States with you or not.
You need to mention every detail about your previous travel to the United States, give details about your school, work and training history. In addition to this, you also have to respond to the questions related to your medical history.
After that, you will require to respond to the next couple of questions to confirm that you are lawfully admissible to the United States. To answer all the questions doesn’t mean just saying yes or no; apart from responding with yes, you will also have to give complete explanation. However, you also have to mention the documents to support your explanation in response to your question.
If you skip any of the questions given on the consular electronic application Center system, you will not be redirected to the next step. So it’s better to answer all the questions given in the form. Also, while filling the form, ensure that you save your work as you might have the risk of time out, and your information might also get deleted if you are not active on the page for a longer period.
Furthermore, also ensure to complete the form in the English language and get the translation of the words that are not in English. At last, ensure to take the printout of the confirmation page as applicant will require presenting the confirmation page at the Visa interview.
For further information related to the marriage-based green card, you can refer to our marriage green card USA guide.
What are the required supporting documents you must include while filling Form DS-260?
While filing the application form DS-260, you and your spouse both must submit the relevant supporting documents. Listed below are the list of relevant supporting documents that need to be submitted.
Being an applicant spouse, you will require to provide the below-given documents along with the form DS-260:
- You will have to present the proof of your nationality by presenting the documents like birth certificate and personal page of the passport.
- You need to include the valid photocopy of your marriage certificate. In addition, if you had any previous marriages, you would be required to present evidence showing that your last marriage has been terminated as a divorce or death certificate.
- In case you have given service in the military, you will require to present the copy of your military record any time in the past.
- In case you have a history of any criminal offense, you will be required to provide the police clearance letter to give documentation about the detail of the situation.
Ensure that police clearance letter is in English. If not, then you should choose to hire a translation agency that offers Police Clearance Translation Services.
For the sponsoring spouse, the document that needs to be submitted will be:
- A duly completed affidavit of support form that acts as proof showing that you are stable enough to financially support your spouse in the United States and don’t allow them to rely on the US government.
- If you were married anytime in the past, but your marriage was terminated, you will need to show evidence of your marriage termination, such as divorce or death certificate.
The sponsoring spouse has to present evidence showing that they have ties to the United States. The documents that will be required to show are state-issued ID, and proof of address will be enough documents if living in the United States. However, in case you are in any other foreign country, then sponsoring spouse will require to fulfill any of the given requirements:
- You should be having a temporary residence abroad and should have a primary residence in the US.
- You were sent abroad either by a US government employer or U.S. Institutions.
- You should have an intention to return to the United States and settle yourself prior to the arrival of your spouse in the United States.
The number of documents may vary based upon the US Consulate or embassy managing your application. You might have to provide some additional documents as requested by the embassy. Always ensure to submit all the documents in a single package.
What happens after filing Form DS-260?
After you have submitted the application form DS-260 and the supporting documents, NVC will transfer all your documentation to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Then, the National Visa Center will ask you to get a scheduled date for the immigration Visa interview at your nearest US embassy or consulate. Before attending the immigrant visa interview, you will first have to give the medical examination by approaching to the USCIS appointed doctor. To get further details related to medical examination, visit the local US embassy or consulate bank website.
After you have got a date for the immigrant visa interview, NVC will send you the interview appointment letter. In the interview appointment letter, it will be listed who needs to be present at the interview.
The document that you are required to bring to your immigrant Visa interview is as given below:
- You need to bring the unexpired passport along with two passport size photos.
- Applicants should bring the appointment letter will they have received from the National Visa Center.
- A printout of the Form DS-260 confirmation page which they obtained after filling the form.
- A relevant supporting document that applicants have uploaded to the consular electronic application Center website.
All the original documents you submitted to the embassy or consulate will be returned to you once your interview is over; they might keep the photocopied document.
While submitting the document to the National Visa Center, if you did not translate any of the documents in English, when you visit the immigration Visa interview, ensure to translate all the documents in English to avoid the rejection of your application. In addition to this, also make sure to pay all the outstanding fees at the US embassy or consulate.
Once your interview gets over, Embassy or consulate will take the decision regarding the approval or denial of your application. They will either make their decision immediately or will take some time to make the decision. After the embassy approves your application, the applicant will obtain the valid US Visa, which will be valid for 12 months through which you can visit the United States.
Also, after getting the approval of your application, you will get the sealed envelope along with the file. Applicants are not required to open the envelope, as this package needs to be opened only by the US border officer when you visit the United States.
After your visa gets approved, you will require paying the USCIS immigrant fee of $220 online by visiting their website. Once you make the payment, USCIS will send the permanent resident card or green card within three to four weeks to the provided U.S. permanent address.
Now you will be considered a permanent resident of the United States; you will also receive the Social Security number that allows you to work in the United States and get liable to pay all the required taxes as paid by the US citizen.
How long does it take to process the Form DS-260?
The estimated time taken by the National Visa Center to process your form DS-260 is within three months. But in most cases, the time may vary depending upon the type of cases and the relevancy of documents submitted. The earlier you will submit the document, the sooner the national Visa center will process your application. You can get more information about the processing time in our guide of how long does it takes to process the application.
How to check the status of Form DS-260?
You also can check the status of your form DS-260 online; the only thing you have to do is to enter your case number on the consular electronic application Center’s (CEAC) status tracker to get the result about the status of your application. If your application is taking longer to process, you also have the option to contact the National Visa center by phone to inquire about your application’s status.
We hope all the above mentioned information related to D-260 and D-261 forms was sufficient to help you understand about the role of these forms in green card application.
To know about the green cards in detail you can check our complete green card guide.