Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find the DS-160?
You can access the DS-160 at the following link: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ , or through the link in our website: http://argentina.usembassy.gov/non-immigrant_visas/required-documents.html
HELPFUL TIPS BEFORE COMPLETING THE DS-160
What documents must I have in hand before completing the DS-160 form, so as not to delay the process?
Before accessing the DS-160 site, please have the following documents on hand:
- Valid passport for each applicant;
- Previous passports with the dates of previous trips (to the US or other countries);
- The issuance date of any previously issued visas;
- Dates of previous trips to the US;
- Birth certificate for each applicant;
- The personal information for each applicant’s parent (including adults, even if their parents are deceased), as well as their Date and Place of Birth;
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of relatives in the U.S.;
- Information regarding your intended stay in the U.S. (name, address, telephone of contact who you will be visiting).
What should I consider at the time of completing the DS-160 form?
It is very important that you answer each question completely and honestly to avoid delays in your application. Simply clicking “Does Not Apply” is not acceptable if it does not answer the question (e.g.: Clicking “Does Not Apply” to the question “Name of Son” (in the event you have children) would not be sufficient and would delay your application). If the answers are not accurate and filled out completely, the applicant(s) will be delayed during their application process on the date of the interview as he/she will be required to complete a new form and come back another day. If the applicant does not answer all those questions which apply directly to his/her case, their application may be denied. This new application form still requires most applicants to demonstrate strong economic and social ties outside of the United States.
Are the questions in Spanish? Can my answers be in Spanish?
No, the questions are in English. However, you can place the cursor over each question for an instant translation to Spanish. To activate this program, you should choose the language drop down menu located in the right top corner of the screen.
ALL application answers, unless otherwise indicated, must be in English, using English characters only. The system will NOT accept special characters such as “ñ”, “é”, or “ü”. Applications that are submitted in any language other than English will be denied, and you will be required to submit a new application.
What happens if I have information that cannot be accurately conveyed in English??
While the form needs to be answered in English and you will need to use English characters, you may need to provide data in the original language. This will typically apply for your address, your complete name, or information in your native alphabet. It should be stressed that letters such as ñ, é, ü etc., are not recognized by the system. For example, names such as Müller, Muñoz and García, should be written Muller, Munoz and Garcia.
Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?
Most fields on the DS-160 are mandatory. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply”. If that field does not apply to you, you may mark the box “Does Not Apply.” All other fields must be completed: the application will not allow you to submit a form with any of the mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the specific field before continuing. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.
The DS-160 gives me the option to upload my photo. Do I need to do this to complete the application?
Yes. It is a requirement that you upload your photo electronically. The DS-160 form provides you with the ability to upload your photo. Please read the photo requirements and instructions carefully. If the photo does not meet the required parameters, the system will reject it. Please remember that you MUST at least attempt to upload your photo as not doing so will prevent you from continuing with the application. The system provides you with three opportunities to upload your photo. If after the third attempt the system rejects your photo, you will have to physically bring a photo on the day of the interview. In this case, please keep in mind that your application process will most likely suffer delays (thus we recommend that you follow the instructions carefully for uploading your photo electronically.)
What are the characteristics of a good photo? How do I upload it to the DS-160 application?
Upload the photo: Please follow the detailed instructions. You will need to have a photo digitally saved to your computer, pen drive, etc., in JPEG format (For example a .jpg extension file.) The photo cannot not be more than 1 MB. Select “Browse” and select your photo once you verify it meets the required parameters some of which are repeated below:
5 cm x 5 cm.
Color with white background
Recent photo (taken within the past six months preceding the appointment)
The applicant must be facing the camera directly with ears and forehead exposed. The face should cover 50 percent of the area of the photo from the neck up.
If you wear glasses, you should remove them. You should also remove earrings and/or piercings. The head must be uncovered, without the use of caps, handkerchiefs or turbans unless the applicant‘s religion prohibits the absence of a head covering.
Should I save my application before I submit it?
YES! You should save your application frequently (to either your hard drive or a CD) and especially before you submit your application. Saving your application locally is beneficial in two regards. First, if your application is rejected by the Embassy for being incomplete, i.e., your application contains nonresponsive answers or you failed to answer a critical question, you will be able access your saved application data, complete the appropriate information and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application. Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa and submit the updated application. This will save you time by not having to reenter information that has not changed since the last time you applied.
Should I save my form often?
YES. It is highly recommended that you do so to avoid losing the information you are loading. Completing the form as required may take from 20 to 90 minutes and this information might be lost if you do not save your file frequently. As soon as you start filling the DS-160 form, we suggest you save it to your hard drive and repeat this process frequently, especially every time you change screens. Each time you wish to save changes you must follow the instructions carefully (Select Save / Save application to file / Browse / Save.) After 15 minutes of inactivity, the unsaved information will be lost. Please remember that in order for your information to be saved to your hard drive, you must press the “Save” button.
What happens if I need to step away in the middle of completing the DS-160 application? How do I save my application?
The DS-160 will “time out” when idle for approximately 20 minutes. The “time out” is designed to protect your privacy. If the application times out, all the data that has been entered will be lost. In order to guard against possible “time out” issues you should save the application at regular intervals while you are completing the application. To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, press the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file; browse to that location; and press the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete you can press “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Upload a Previous Application” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.
How do I save the application into my C drive?
As soon as you start filling out the form, after the “Getting Started” and Personal Information” steps, you will find the option to save your application on the footer of the page. In order to do this:
- Click “Save”, which is found at the bottom end of your application and a new screen (“Save confirmation”) will open. This option will allow you to save your application as a file in your computer, Select the option “Save Application to File”.
- A screen asking you if you would like to open or save the file will appear. You will need to select “Save” and choose where you would like to save the file.
- The System will download your application from Internet to that location you have chosen. Once the download is complete, you may click “Close” and/or “Continue Application” to go back to the application.
- You will have to repeat this procedure every time you change screens and wish to save the information. If you just click “save” without following the aforementioned steps, the information you uploaded will not be saved and you may lose all the data.
How do I retrieve a form that was previously saved to my disk?
If you need to reuse a saved application, you may use the option “Upload a Previous Application”, which appears in the “Getting Started” page.
Why weren’t the changes that I made in the review page saved?
In order to successfully save the changes you make in the review page, you must use the buttons that appear at the bottom end of the navigation page, instead of the back/forth buttons or the ones which appear at the left of the screen.
Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or just the confirmation page (bar code sheet)?
You should not bring your entire application to the interview. Your confirmation page is all that is needed to retrieve your application. The confirmation page is the sheet with the bar code that you print out after completing and saving your application. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your specific case.
I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?
Yes. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you will still need to create an individual application for each of your family members traveling with you or for each individual within the group.
I am applying for an E-Visa. Do I need to fill out the DS-160 and the DS-156E?
It depends. If you are an E-Visa Principal Investor (E-2) applicant, all you need to complete is the DS-160. If you are a Treaty Trader or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee you will need to complete the DS-160 and you or your employer will need to complete the paper DS-156E. In the future a new form, the DS-161, E-Visa Business Information form, will be released. This form will allow you or your employer to complete an online form and submit the form electronically to the Department. Until that time all treaty traders, executives, managers, and essential employees of an E-Visa business will be required to complete and submit the paper DS-156E.
What is a Visa?
What Does the Visa Expiration Date Mean?
The visa expiration date is shown on the visa. Depending on the alien’s nationality, visas can be issued for any number of entries, from as little as one entry to as many as multiple entries, for the same purpose of travel.
- This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel for the same purpose, when the visa is issued for multiple entries.
- The expiration date for the visa should not be confused with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S., given to you by the U.S. immigration inspector at the port-of-entry, on the Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, or I-94W for the Visa Waiver Program. The visa expiration date has nothing to do with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S. for any given visit.
How can I find out how long I am authorized to stay in the U.S?
At the port of entry, upon entering the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security US immigration inspector will provide you a small white card, Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record in your passport. Visa Waiver Program travelers receive Form 1-94W. On this form, the U.S. immigration inspector records a date or "D/S" (duration of status). If your I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must depart the United States. Your Form I-94 or I-94W is a very important document to keep in your passport, since it shows your permission to be in the U.S.
I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States, what should I do?
If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Records, see Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website for more information.
For how long will my tourist/business visa be valid?
The specific duration of the visa will be determined by the consular officer during the visa interview. Argentines who are able to demonstrate strong ties to their country of residence may be issued a multiple entry B1/B2 (Business/Tourist) visa valid for 10 years. The validity of the visa has no bearing on the length of stay. Each time you enter the US, the Immigration Officials at the port of entry will determine how long you may stay. If the amount of time given to you is not sufficient, you may contact the nearest office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Apply for the extension well in advance. Approval or denial of the extension is at the discretion of the USCIS.
I had a visa before. Do I automatically qualify for a renewal?
When your visa has expired and you wish to apply for another visa, please be prepared to demonstrate strong family, social, and economic ties to your country of residence at the time of your interview. Having been previously issued a visa does not guarantee that you will automatically qualify for another visa, i.e. there is no “renewal” or “renovation” of a non-immigrant visa to the United States. Just as each application for a visa is different, each time you apply for a visa you must demonstrate to the interviewing officer that you are qualified for the type of visa for which you are applying and that you will depart the United States at the end of your authorized temporary stay.
If I have only a tourist visa, what sort of activities can I do in the United States?
A B-2 visa is only valid for travel to the United States for a temporary visit for pleasure. In general terms this includes touring, visiting friends and relatives, visits for rest or medical treatment, participation in conventions, conferences or convocations of fraternal or social organizations, and participation by amateurs - who will receive no remuneration - in musical, sports or similar events or contests. For a visit for business purposes you need a classification B-1 visa. In general, Consular Officers issue B1/B2 visas, which are valid to perform all the activities mentioned above (business AND tourism).
I have a visa; do I need a return ticket?
If you hold a visa of any classification, including a B-1/B-2 visa, you are not required to hold a return ticket; you may enter the United States on a one-way ticket. However, the immigration officers at the port of entry may inquire regarding your intent to return to Argentina. All travelers should carry with them for presentation to US officials, if required, evidence of funds sufficient for their visit and, with the exception of H and L visa holders (long term work visas), evidence that they have a residence abroad to which they intend to return at the end of their stay. Examples of such evidence include: traveler's checks, return tickets, copy of latest bank statement, a letter from parents saying they will support you, evidence of current employment and evidence of enrollment at an academic institution.
Can I travel without a visa?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. However, there are some requirements and restrictions. The Consulate will not determine whether a traveler is eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program or not. Please, visit the following link for further information: http://argentina.usembassy.gov/waiver--.html
What happens if I enter on the visa waiver program and then decide I want to stay longer than 90 days?
You cannot extend the time on the Waiver Program. The 90 days also includes any time spent in Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands. Therefore, you cannot cross the border into these areas and then return for another 90 days. You can, however, ask for re-entry on the Waiver Program if you have left the continent.
Can I apply for a visa in Argentina if I am not an Argentine passport holder or a permanent resident in Argentina?
An applicant may apply at any U.S. Consulate abroad. However, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa when applying outside one's own country of permanent residence. You are expected to demonstrate strong ties to your country of residence which support your intention to return home after a temporary visit to the US. Therefore, applicants are advised to apply in their own country of permanent residence where they can more easily demonstrate these required ties.
Is my "indefinite" visa still valid?
Indefinite visas are no longer valid for travel to the U.S. Bearers of indefinite visas who wish to travel to the U.S. should apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate.
Do Argentines need 6 months validity on their passports to obtain a visa to the US?
This is not a requirement. While visa regulations state that a passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of the holder's departure from the United States, the United States has an agreement with many countries (including Argentina) automatically extending the validity of a passport for six months past the passport's expiration date. The result is that an Argentine passport should remain valid at least for the duration of the traveler's stay in the United States.
I have a visa in my old passport. Can I just transfer it to my new passport?
It is not possible to transfer a visa from one passport to another without making a new visa application. You should carry both passports when traveling to the US. Please note that the Embassy no longer issues visas valid indefinitely.
Note: If, when canceling your old passport, your national passport authority has clipped the corners of the passport, and, in so doing, has damaged the visa in any way, that visa is no longer valid and cannot be used for travel to the United States.
My passport with a U.S. visa was stolen. Where should I report the incident?
You are highly encouraged to report the theft/loss of your passport with a valid U.S. visa to the U.S.Consulate.
When becoming aware of the incident, we request you notify us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org about the theft or loss of your passport and that you send us a scanned copy of the police report.
I received my passport following the interview but there is a mistake on my visa. What should I do?
To avoid delay in travel, please check the information printed on the visa upon receipt to confirm that it is correct. Biographic information on the visa should match the information found on the passport biographic page. If you notice a misprint on your visa, please bring it to the Embassy from Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 12:00 a.m.
If the visa needs correction due to wrong information in the passport or incorrect information provided by the applicant during the consular interview, the applicant will need to re-apply for a new visa. In cases involving erroneous information in your passport, you will need to obtain a new passport prior to applying for a visa.
I was arrested/convicted years ago; Can I apply for a visa?
Anyone arrested or convicted of a crime (regardless of how long ago) may apply for a visa - they cannot use the Visa Waiver Program. The applicant must submit details including court date, type of offence, and outcome. The port of entry and exit to/from the US and the expected dates are also required. This information is in addition to the usual requirements for the type of visa being applied for. Applicants should be sure to indicate their arrest on the visa application form.
Can I present a copy of my I-797 approval notice for my work visa?
Yes, you may present a copy of your I-797 notification of approval from the office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), although the original form is preferred. Note: When scheduling your appointment, you will be required to provide the approved petition number.
My company is sending me to the US office for training, Which type of visa do I need?
The B1/B2 visa allows you to attend short, in-house training courses of less than 6 months. The day of your interview, you should carry a letter on company letterhead stating the purpose of the trip, the approximate length of stay, and that your salary will continue to be paid from the Argentine Company. Letters from the US institution or company providing the training with a point of contact listed on the letter are strongly recommended.
F/M - STUDENT VISAS
How long before my program starts can I travel to the US?
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, student visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start date listed on their I-20. This 30-day limit does not apply to returning students with a valid I-20; they may travel to the U.S. at any time.
How long can I stay in the US with an F/M visa?
F visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days after the end date listed on their I-20. M visa holders may remain in the U.S. either for one year or the time indicated on the I-20 plus 30 days, whichever is less.
I have changed schools. Do I need to get a new visa?
If you change schools before you make your first trip to the US as a student, you will need to get a new visa. However, if you are changing schools after you have started your studies in the US, you do not need to get a new visa, unless you have been outside of the US for more than five months. Before traveling to the US to start at a new school, please contact your student advisor to ensure that your SEVIS status has been activated.
If I am in the US studying and my visa has expired. Do I need to leave the country?
You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are in full-time student status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid student visa in order to reenter the U.S.
Can I work while I am in the US?
In certain circumstances, F-1 visa holders may obtain permission to work. M-1 visa holders may only engage in employment which is a required part of their practical training and the employment has been approved in advance by the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Can my family members work in the US?
No. Family members may not work on derivative F-2 and M-2 visas; they may, however, study at academic institutions.
Can I study at a public school in the US?
According to section 214(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), students cannot attend public elementary schools (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publicly funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes on an F-1 visa. It is possible to attend public high schools (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18) for a maximum of 12 months on an F-1 visa, but proof must be shown that payment has been made for the full unsubsidized cost of the education before a visa can be processed.
Students attending private elementary and secondary schools are not affected by the age requirement.
J - EXCHANGE VISAS
Should I wait for my DS-2019 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?
You must have your DS-2019 prior to scheduling your appointment.
How long before program commencement can one enter the United States?
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, exchange visitor visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the commencement date on the DS-2019. This 30-day limit does not apply to those returning to continue an ongoing program; they may enter the U.S. at any time.
How long can one stay in the US with a J visa?
J visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days after the ending date listed on the DS-2019.
If my visa expires while in the US must I leave?
You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are on full-time exchange visitor status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid exchange visitor visa to reenter the U.S.
Can one work on a J visa?
Exchange visitors are not permitted to work outside of their program.
Can family members work on a J derivative visa?
Family members are not permitted to work on derivative J-2 visas unless permission has been obtained in advance from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Study at academic institutions is possible.
What happens if I want to stay as a tourist for a longer period of time than the permitted 30 days after the expiration of my J visa?
You should apply for a tourist visa at the same time you apply for your J visa. If you are applying for both you will only need to submit one DS-156 application form and one photo. You must pay two application fees. You must include all the other documentation required for the J visa. If you wish to remain longer than the 30 days after the end of your program you must contact the local office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and ask for a change in status from your J visa to your tourist visa. You should ask for this change in status about two months before the official end of your program. Otherwise, you should leave the US within the 30 days after the end of your program and re-enter on your tourist visa.
My DS-2019/I-20/I-20M form has not arrived from the US. Can I apply for the visa with a photocopy of the approval notice to work/study?
No, you must have the original documents to apply, and you must bring all pages of the form to the Consulate.
H, L, O, P - WORK VISAS
Can I get a visa to do casual work?
No, there is no visa that covers casual work. You must have an employer sponsor as described in the working visa information page.
I received notification that an H/L petition has been approved.
A petition based visa application cannot be processed without evidence of an approved petition from the USCIS. When applying for the visa, you should submit your petition number. That number is essential to schedule your appointment in the US Consulate in Buenos Aires. If you do not have that information, you should contact your prospective employer (the petitioner) since the USCIS will send him the information required.
How long can I stay after the end of my working visa?
On the H, L, O, P, Q, and R you may enter the U.S. 10 days before the official start of your work and, you may stay 10 days after the official end of your work.
Can a relative in the US sponsor me?
Only your employer can sponsor you for work.
Can I enter the United States on a B-1 visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program to set up the office?
The holder of a B-1 visa, or a person who has entered the United States in B-1 visa status under the Visa Waiver Program, may survey potential sites in connection with a business venture and/or to lease premises. The holder of a B-1 visa may not remain in the U.S. to manage a business. An appropriate work visa (H, L, or E visa) is required.
How do I apply for an athlete’s visa?
The P visa covers Athletes. Refer to the page entitled Artists, Athletes & Workers. The B2 tourist or Visa Waiver Pilot Program allows participation in contests as amateurs or for prize money only. If you are sponsored by a company in the US, and they are paying you sponsorship fees, you must have a P visa.
I have a Q visa. How long can I remain in the United States?
You may remain in the United States for the validity period of the petition. The total stay in the United States may not exceed 15 months.
Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the U.S. if I am issued a work visa?
The spouse and children under the age of 21 of the beneficiary of an H/L/O/P visa may apply for derivative status. U.S. visa law does not recognize common-law marriages (or same sex relationships). A common-law spouse may not apply for a derivative visa. He/she will be required to apply for a visitor visa or work visa if seeking employment.
You and your partner should apply for the visas together. Your partner is required to furnish evidence to show that he/she has sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States. He/she is also required to furnish evidence of a residence abroad to which he/she intends to return at the end of the stay in the United States together with documentary evidence confirming your formal relationship. If you do not apply for the visas at the same time, your partner will be required to furnish a copy of the visa endorsed in your passport.
Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the U.S. if I am issued a Q visa?
There is no derivative status for the spouse and children of the holder of a Q Visa. If they or your common-law spouse or other family member wish to accompany you to the U.S., they will be required to qualify for a visa in their own right. School age children require student F-1 visas.
Can I apply for a work visa while in the United States?
If you are traveling to the United States with the intention of taking up employment you must be in possession of the correct work visa. You cannot travel to the U.S on a visitor visa and apply for an adjustment of status.
My spouse is applying for an H-4 visa. Can he/she work?
The holder of an H-4 visa is not eligible to work on a derivative visa. If your spouse wishes to work while in the United States, he/she will be required to qualify for a work visa in his/her own right.
My spouse is applying for an L-2 visa. Can he/she work?
Spouses of L-1 visa holders may seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas. Further information is available from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services after your arrival in the United States.
Can my spouse apply for employment authorization before traveling to the U.S.?
Only the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States can grant employment authorization. The USCIS office having jurisdiction over your area of intended residence in the United States will be able to advise you of procedures. You should contact them for further information.
My son/daughter is applying for an L-2 visa. Can he/she work?
The law allowing spouses of L-1 visa holders to seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas does not apply to children of the L-1 holder.