Sample DS-156, Non-Immigrant Visa Form
Many people have questions or doubts how exactly to fill the DS-156, non-immigrant visa form. This form is required for any non-immigrant visa such as a Visitors Visa or Business Visa. This page describes in detail how exactly to fill your DS-156. Of course, you will have to fill in your specific details and depending upon your circumstances, you may have to answer the questions differently than shown in this generic sample application.

Nationals of Cuba are required to fill two DS-156 forms.

Tips for Form DS-156

  1. Please ensure that all fields are completed. If you have no response for a question, put "none" or "nil". Do not draw a line or write "NA" or "not applicable".
  2. All applicants above the age of 14 must sign their application form. Where applicant is below 14, either parent can sign the application form.
  3. The photo affixed must be front facing, not more than 6 months old with a light color background.
  4. Applicable if you have filled the form online while taking an appointment:
    For Boxes 1 through 14 in DS-156 form, you may amend, at any time, your completed and printed application forms in pen if the details of your application change or you made a mistake. Do not complete and print another DS-156 Form. Amend your original forms instead.
  5. All applicants are personally responsible and accountable for the answers on their application forms, regardless of who fills out the form.
  6. Use a laser printer to print the forms.
Look at this Sample DS156 to get an idea how a typical application for non-immigrant visa may look like.

Step by step instructions for each field in DS-156:
  1. Passport Number:
    Your current passport number. If you previously had a passport that expired or was lost, don't write numbers from those passports.

  2. Place of Issuance:
    City: City where passport was issued. Write current official name of the city. e.g., write "Mumbai" instead of "Bombay".
    Country: Country from where the passport was issued. e.g., write "India" and not "Bharat" or "Hindustan".
    State/Province: State/Province from where the passport was issued.

  3. Issuing Country:
    Country that issued your passport. That is the country you are citizen of. Sometimes, it gets confusing to some people. If you were staying in a different country (say UAE) when your passport was expiring and if the Indian embassy in UAE issued you the passport, issuing country is still 'India' and NOT 'UAE'.

  4. Issuance Date (dd-mmm-yyyy):
    Date when passport was issued. Please note that in the U.S., dates are written as MM/DD/YYYY while in India, they are written as DD/MM/YYYY. To avoid confusion, this form requires that you spell out the month while writing dates. e.g., 03-Jan-2001.

  5. Expiration Date (dd-mmm-yyyy):
    Date when passport is expiring. Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States. However, if that is not the case, it should at least be valid for 6 months from the intended entry date into the U.S.

  6. Surnames (As in Passport):
    Your surname. Also called Last Name in the U.S. In Indian passport, this should be listed in first line in name.

  7. First and Middle Names (As in Passport):
    Your first and middle name. Also called Given Name. In Indian passport, write everything that is written in second line in name.
    Please use the exact spelling and name order indicated in the passport. Issuance of visa will be delayed if the consulate is not informed of all names, previous and current, used by each applicant.

    More details

  8. Other surnames used (Maiden, Religious, Professional, Aliases):
    Any other surnames that you might have used in past. "Maiden" name means the name a woman used before she is married (if she changed it after marriage) .

  9. Other First and Middle Names Used:
    This would be blank for most people but if you used any other names in the past, write them here.
    Married women must be sure to include their full name as used before marriage, after marriage, and any other aliases.

  10. Date of Birth (dd-mmm-yyyy):
    Date when you were born. This date should be there in your passport.

  11. Place of Birth:
    Place were you were born. Write City (Village, town), Country and State/Province where you were born.

  12. Nationality:
    Country whose citizen you are. e.g., "Indian".

  13. Sex:
    Your gender, male or female.

  14. National Identification Number: (if applicable)
    Write 'None' for Indian citizens. If you are citizen of some other country and that country has any such number, write it here.

  15. Home Address:
    Your complete home address including apartment number, street, city, taluk or district, state or province, postal code and country. The address to be mentioned should be the one where you have been residing for the last six months. It can differ from your permanent address mentioned in the passport. If you are presently staying in the USA and came to home country (such as India) for passport stamping, you should write the address where you are currently staying in your home country. That is also the address where the passport will be mailed to you if you get a visa.

  16. Home Telephone Number:
    If you have a telephone at home, write the number, else write 'None'.
    Business Phone Number:
    If you have a business phone, write the number, else write 'None'.
    Mobile/Cell Number:
    If you have a mobile (cell) phone, write the number, else write 'None'.
    Fax Number:
    If you have a fax at home, write the number, else write 'None'.
    Business Fax Number:
    If you have a fax at your place of business, write the number, else write 'None.'
    Pager Number:
    If you have a pager, write the number, else write 'None'.

  17. Marital Status:
    Check appropriate box: Married, Single (Never Married), Widowed, Divorced, Separated
    K1/K2 visa: This must be anything other than Married or Separated
    K3 visa: This must be Married

  18. Spouse's Full Name:
    If you are married, divorced or separated, write your spouse's name even if spouse is not going to be traveling with you or not applying for a visa. Include maiden name also.
    K1/K2 visa: Must write 'None' here.

  19. Spouse's DOB (dd-mmm-yyyy):
    Your spouse's date of birth.
    K1/K2 visa: Must write 'None' here.

  20. Name and Address of Present Employer or School:
    Write complete name and address where you work. If you are self employed, write where your business is located. If you are retired, and don't work, write 'None'. If you are retired and do some part time, write its name/address here.

  21. Present Occupation (If retired, write "retired". If student, write "student".):
    Write your current occupation. It means your job or other primary daily activity. Please be specific in describing your occupation: e.g. software engineer, trader in chemicals, manager in travel company, MD of pharmaceutical company. It is not enough to just write "Business" or "Service".
    Even if you don't have a 9 to 5 type of job, try to list something here. This will help show that you have some activity that will attract you back home when your visit to the U.S. is over.

  22. When Do You Intend To Arrive In The U.S.?
    You must provide a date. This can either be a specific date or a tentative date.

  23. Email Address:
    Your email address, if you have one. Else write 'None'. If provided, this email may be used by Stanley or consulate to send you confirmation of appointment or other communication.

  24. At What Address Will You Stay in The U.S.?
    Write the address where you will stay in the United States. If you are staying with your relative such as son, daughter or son-in-law, daughter-in-law, write their address. It can also be a hotel where you might be staying. You don't have to necessarily stay at that address for your entire trip to the U.S. "Any hotel" is not a proper answer to this question. If you are a student (F1 visa), this response might include your expected dormitory address or if this is not known, your International Advisor/University campus address. If you are employed in the U.S. (H1B or L1) and maintain an apartment in the U.S., please provide that address and telephone number.

  25. Name and Telephone Numbers of Person in the U.S. Who You Will Be Staying With or Visiting for Tourism or Business:
    If you are going to be staying at some relative's place write his/her name here and his/her phone numbers here.

  26. How Long Do You Intend To Stay in The U.S.?
    Be specific how long you intend to stay in the U.S. Examples, '6 months', '4 months', '2 weeks' etc. Don't write vague answers like 'as much as you let me', 'as long as possible', 'as long as my daughter-in-law needs babysitter', 'don't know', 'haven't decided' etc. Whatever time duration you specify, don't write more than 6 months, and be prepared to answer what you will be doing during that much time in the U.S. An applicant should mention the duration of the planned trip; not the duration of the visa he is hoping for.
    K1/K2 visa: permanently, will apply for permanent residence following marriage
    K3/K4/V visa: permanently, will apply for permanent residence

  27. What is The Purpose of Your Trip?
    Visitors/Business:
    Ideal answer would be 'Tourism' and/or 'Visiting Family'. It can also be a more specific answer like 'attend son's graduation event', 'take my family to Las Vegas'. This will help show your intent to stay for a limited time.
    Never write 'help pregnant daughter-in-law', 'babysitting', 'help in household work' etc.

    H1/L1 Workers:
    Temporary employment.

    H4/L2 Workers:
    Accompany the spouse

    Students:
    Study

    K1 Visa:
    Marry U.S. citizen fiance(e).

    K3 Visa:
    Join U.S. citizen spouse and apply for adjustment of status.

  28. Who Will Pay For Your Trip?:
    Name of the person who has agreed to support you financially while you are in the U.S. If someone is sponsoring you, his/her name should be there in the 'Affidavit of Support I-134' form and also in other support documents that sponsor would send to you.
    If you are sponsoring yourself, you may write your name or 'Self' here.

    H1/L1 Workers:
    Temporary employment in USA

    H4/L2 Workers:
    Spouse on H1/L1

    K1 visa:
    It should be either your US citizen fiance or you or the one who signed I-134, affidavit of support as a joint sponsor.

    K3 visa:
    It should be either your US citizen spouse or you or the one who signed I-134, affidavit of support as a joint sponsor.

  29. Have You Ever Been in The U.S.?:
    If you have ever been to the U.S., check 'Yes' and mention when you had been in the U.S. and for how long. Consulate will look to see whether you left on time. And if you did leave on time, the chance of you getting a visa this time is higher, as it shows that you honored the requirement to return home during your last visit. But if you overstayed during your last visit to the U.S., you may have difficulty getting a visa this time. Also, if the consulate finds out that you have been stringing together visas to spend as much time as possible in the U.S., they may doubt your true intention and may deny your visa. The Consulate may also do the check to see if you have violated any other visa terms during your past visit(s).

  30. Have You Ever Been Issued a U.S. Visa?
    If you have ever been issued a US visa before (even if it is different type than you are currently applying), write details here accordingly.

    Most of the nonimmigrant visas would not create problems for returning to the U.S. unless you had overstayed the visa expiration date and stayed in the U.S. illegally. Exception: if you were in the U.S. on a J1 (exchange visitor) visa and haven't yet completed the 2-year "home country" residency requirement. Please consult an attorney if this applies to you.

  31. Have You Ever Been Refused a U.S. Visa?
    If you have ever been refused a U.S. visa, write the details about it here. You have to answer 'Yes', even if some other type of U.S. visa was denied in past. You must tell truth the here (and of course everywhere in this entire process). The Consular checks your file and records anyway. They can also check whether you lied earlier or used fraudulent documents to apply for a visa before, or whether you violated visa terms before. If any of that is true, it would be tough for you to get a visa.

    Even if your visa is refused under Section 221(g) because of a missing document, and now you can present the document, it is nonetheless a refusal and, therefore, you must respond "Yes" to this question and provide all the subsequent details requested.

    Many people have been denied a tourist visa or student visa in the past. That is not a problem if you apply for an H1 visa or Fiance (K1) visa etc. later. However, if you were refused because of some fraud, this application may be denied as well.

  32. Do You Intend To Work in The U.S.?
    B1/B2 Visa:
    For visitor visa applicants, this answer must be NO. If you answer 'Yes', you don't meet the basic requirements for a visa. Tourists are not allowed to come to the United States to work.
    Even if you are applying for a business visa, you have to say 'No'. Business visa holders may attend meetings, plan for future expansion of their business, collect requirements from client for work overseas, but they can't be working in the U.S.

    H1/L1 Workers:
    Yes

    H4 Dependents:
    No

    L2 Dependents:
    If you plan to work, write 'Yes, will apply for work authorization'. Otherwise, write 'No'.

    K3 Visa:
    If you plan to work in the U.S., indicate 'Fiance applicant; will apply for work authorization'. Otherwise, indicate 'No'.

    K3 Visa:
    If you plan to work in the U.S., indicate 'K3/K4 applicant; will apply for work authorization'. Otherwise, indicate 'No'.

  33. Do You Intend To Study in The U.S.?
    If you intend to study, provide the name and complete address of school you will be attending. If you are applying for a visitor visa, the course you want to study must be shorter than 1 year, maximum period allowed under a tourist visa. Also talk to your school whether the course you want to attend requires you to have a student visa. Some people may apply for a tourist visa for short or recreational study courses.

  34. Names and Relationships of Persons Traveling With You:
    You enter only the names of close family members (such as your spouse and minor children) who will be traveling with you. Each family member must prepare their own visa applications. All of you will be interviewed at the same time.

  35. Has Your U.S. Visa Ever Been Cancelled or Revoked?
    Answer appropriately. Either USCIS or State Department may have cancelled a visa if they discover that the visa holder has violated the terms of the visa, such as overstaying. If your visa was cancelled before, it would be difficult to get another visa this time.

  36. Has Anyone Ever Filed an Immigrant Visa Petition on Your Behalf?
    Answer whether anyone has filed an immigrant visa petition (green card petition) on your behalf. If someone has filed your immigrant visa petition, and you are waiting for the visa processing, waiting for priority dates to be current, it would be very very difficult to get a visitor visa. The reason is that you have already shown the intent to immigrate to the U.S., and a visitor visa application requires one to prove that he/she does not have any intention to immigrate to the U.S., which contradicts each other. It is assumed that if consulate gives you a visitor visa, you will simply stay in the U.S., wait for your green card processing there and file for adjustment of status(I-485) and will not leave the U.S. That is why you are very likely to get your visitor visa rejected in this case. It is not impossible to get a visitor visa for such people, but you have work very hard to convince the consulate that you will return home after your short visit to the U.S. You can still show that you have business going on in the home country; there are lots of things to take care of before you can really plan on settling in the U.S. permanently.

    Exception: H1/H4/L1/L2/K/V visas are dual intent and therefore it does not matter whether you have ever filed an immigrant visa petition on your behalf.

  37. Are Any of The Following Persons in The U.S., or Do They Have U.S. Legal Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship?
    Mark YES or NO and indicate that person's status in the U.S. (i.e., U.S. legal permanent resident, U.S. citizen, visiting, studying, working, etc.).
    These are all the close relatives that could potentially file an immigrant visa petition for you for your permanent residence in the U.S., if they themselves are either U.S. citizens or green card holders. If you have any such relatives in the U.S., consular officer will scrutinize your application to see whether you are trying to immigrate to the U.S. through any of them. But having such relatives doesn't mean that you will be denied a tourist visa. In fact, it is a good reason to go to the U.S. to meet such close relatives. Just be prepared to show the documents and other evidence that you will definitely return after a temporary stay in the U.S.
    Do not lie regarding this. Do not hide the presence of family members. Consular officers are quite experts in catching such people who lie and if you are caught, you visa will be immediately rejected and you will be in much bigger trouble. In fact, you may disqualify on future applications for visas or other U.S. immigration benefits. It becomes grounds for inadmissibility.

  38. Important Questions:
    All of these questions check for the grounds of inadmissibility. If you check 'Yes' for any of them, you will be denied the visa. In rare cases, a waiver may be available and you should talk to a competent immigration lawyer to discuss your case with you to see whether any such waiver may be possible.
    For most people, answers to these questions would be 'No'.

  39. Was this Application Prepared by Another Person on Your Behalf?
    If this application was prepared by another person on your behalf, answer 'Yes' and ask that person to fill the next question. In many cases, children in the U.S. fill this application form for parents in India before sending all the papers to India. In that case, they should answer 'Yes'. Sometimes, travel agents or other consultants fill this form on behalf of you, and you should answer 'Yes' in those cases too.

  40. Application Prepared By:
    If the answer to question 39 was 'Yes', ask the preparer to fill this section. Preparer should sign and date the application (this section) as well.

    This question is about lawyers, paralegals, consultants, or other agencies that may have filled the form for you. If you took the help from a friend or a relative, you don't have to fill this section.

  41. You must sign and date the application, even if someone else fills out your form.