Form DS 260 & DS 261 Explained

Form DS 260 & DS 261 Explained

What is Form DS 260

Anyone applying for green cards while outside of the United States must complete the DS-260 online form. This form will be processed by the NVC and your local US Consulate or Embassy (National Visa Center). It's similar to Form I-864, except it's completed online.

Form DS-260 is officially known as the "immigrant visa application," with immigrant referring to a "permanent resident." Not a tourist or someone who is visiting on a brief basis for business – but someone who intends to live there permanently. As a result, if your application is approved, you'll be granted permanent resident status before even arriving in the United States.

What Is the DS-261?

The goal of the DS-261 is to establish a line of communication between the applicant and the NVC. Simply put, this quick online form will tell the state department how to contact you during the application process. It will include your contact information as well as other details that will make reaching you more convenient. Given that you may be contacted in another country, this is a critical aspect for both sides.

Differences between DS-260 and DS-261

There aren't many distinctions between the two, but their timelines and complexity may be the most significant. The DS-260 form includes questions about your background and any information they feel essential. It will inquire about all of the places you've lived since you were 16 - in other words, it will be your life on paper.


While the DS-260 contains your previous and background information, the DS-261 just contains your present information. It will specify how they can contact you because they will be certain that it is your specific address.

What Is the National Visa Center?

The NVC (short for National Visa Center) is a federal office in the United States – specifically, Portsmouth, New Hampshire – that processes all green card applications for persons who live outside of the United States and apply for a visa through their local consulate or embassy.

The already-approved paperwork will be sent to the National Visa Center once USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) authorizes Form I-130, which is your family sponsorship form. Your marriage-based visa will now be submitted from the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of State, which means it will proceed from USCIS to the NVC.

DS 261 Fees

When you're ready to move on to the next step, you'll need to fill out Form DS-261, also known as the Online Choice of Address and Agent. This form is quite straightforward, and it will inform the State Department of how they should contact with you. You won't have to pay any costs to file this form, but it could take up to three weeks for the NVC to process it.

Once it has been processed, you will be charged two fees totaling $445. The State Department application price is $325, but you must also pay the financial support form charge.

When you view the fee invoices in the NVC's Electronic Application Center, you'll know your DS-261 has been processed. It could take up to a week for the NVC to complete your payment. You may want to engage with an immigration attorney to ensure that everything goes smoothly, as they will tell you exactly what you should and should not do.

DS-260 Filing Tips

Many people have their requests turned down because they were not attentive enough. Here are some DS-260 submission suggestions that could improve your chances of approval:

  • Do not leave any holes where crucial information is requested. If you do, the CEAC system will prevent you from progressing.

  • Because this form must be completed in English (with English characters), you should prepare ahead to get assistance if you are unsure about your English.

  • Save your work as frequently as possible, ideally after each page. The system will automatically time out if you leave it idle for too long.

  • If you can't finish everything in one sitting, save the DS-260 and come back later.

  • It could take months for your green card to arrive, so make sure you don't alter your address until then.

  • Always proofread before submitting because you won't be able to make any changes after you've submitted.

  • After submitting the DS-260 online, print the confirmation page and bring it with you to your interview at the US Consulate.

  • If you're not sure how to fill out the form, you can seek guidance from an

DS-260 Interview and Final Fee

All that remains is for you to attend the interview once the accompanying paperwork have been received. You will be notified of the time and day, however it will usually take 1-2 months after you submit your documents to be scheduled.

Your passport will be stamped with an immigrant visa stamp if and when your visa is accepted. You will be needed to pay the $220 USCIS Immigrant Fee at this point, which can be paid online. This money is required so that your physical green card can be delivered to your U.S. address in 3-4 weeks.

If you follow the steps correctly, the process should be simple. If you want to get a marriage-based green card from outside the United States, you'll need to fill out the DS-260 and DS-261 forms. You should be able to boost your chances of acquiring a green card if you read the instructions attentively and follow the instructions supplied by USCIS and the NVC.