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Opinions of Saturday, 19 September 2015

Columnist: Acheampong, Emmanuel Opoku

How to make an application for a U.S visitor’s visa (b-visa)

In the last article, we considered the nature of the B visa and the general permissible activities therein. Today, we will consider the making of a B visa application in general in the light of applicable statutes and regulations.

What constitutes the making of a B Visa application?
A B visa application is made if the applicant submits a completed Form DS-160 for formal adjudication. The applicant must pay the required processing fee or provide evidence of prior payment before their application will be received and accepted for adjudication. Currently in Ghana, the applicant may make a payment of the required fee at any designated branch of Ecobank and submit a receipt of payment at their interview.

What is Form DS-160?
Form DS-160 is the online nonimmigrant visa application form prescribed under section 222 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It is a completely electronic nonimmigrant application procedure that includes an electronic signature, replacing the paper Form DS-156. It is the applicable form for all nonimmigrant visas including the B visa.

The applicant is required to provide on Form DS-160 their full and true name, date and place of birth, nationality, the purpose and length of their intended stay in the U.S, their marital status, and such additional information necessary to identify the applicant and determine their eligibility for a B visa. (See section 222 (c) of INA)

Completing Form DS-160 for illiterate applicant or child under 16
If the applicant is illiterate or unable to complete the application, they may be assisted by a third party who must be identified in the application. The third party can assist the applicant in completing the application, but must instruct the applicant on how to endorse the application on their behalf by clicking on the “submit application” link to complete the application.

If the applicant is under the age of 16 or physically incapable of completing the application, their parent or guardian may execute the application on their behalf. If the applicant has no parent or legal guardian, the application may be completed by any person having legal custody of, or a legitimate interest in the applicant.

Photo requirements and signature
The applicant will be required to electronically upload their picture file into Form DS-160. Applicants who are unsuccessful in uploading a photo may submit a physical photo at their interview. In either case, we advice that the applicant carries along a physical photo with them to their interview even if they are able to successfully upload their photo electronically.

To validate the application, the applicant must sign the Form DS-160 electronically by clicking the box designated “Sign Application” in the certification section of the application. This electronic signature attests to the applicant's familiarity with and intent to be bound by all statements in their application under penalty of perjury.

Submission of biometric and request for additional information
In almost all cases, (except for applicants for whom waivers apply) the applicant will be required to appear for a personal interview and must provide a biometric to authenticate their identity and additionally verify the accuracy and truthfulness of the statements in the application at the time of interview.

At the interview, the consular officer may require the applicant to submit additional necessary information or question the applicant on any relevant matter whenever the consular officer believes that the information provided in the application is inadequate to permit a determination of the applicant's eligibility to receive a B visa.

Although the consular officer is required to ensure that Form DS-160 is fully completed, it is in the applicant’s own interest to ensure that this is fully done. The Form DS-160 constitutes the primary document in a B visa application, and although the consular officer may request to see additional documents at the interview, majority of decisions to issue or refuse a B visa are made without reference to supporting documents held by the applicant.

To be continued…

By Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong

Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on U.S. immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information

The writer is an immigration law consultant and a practicing law attorney in Ghana. He has special interests in U.S., UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works part-time as a consultant for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, an immigration law firm in Accra. He may be contacted on 0200388706 or on