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State Dept. Sends Guidance to Posts on New Electronic Immigrant Visa Application

The Department of State recently sent a cable to all diplomatic and consular posts providing guidance and describing the timeline for deployment of the new electronic DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Application) and DS-261 (Choice of Address and Agent), which replaces the paper-based DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa Registration, parts I and II) and the DS-3032 (Choice of Address and Agent). Worldwide use of the DS-260/261 took effect for new cases on September 1, 2013.

The cable notes, among other things, the availability of software that includes a "biometric oath module" allowing posts to record an electronic fingerprint in lieu of  a written signature attesting to the oath administered before every immigrant visa interview.

The cable states that the Department intends to deploy the DS-260/261 as follows:

  • Beneficiaries submitting new cases that arrive at the National Visa Center (NVC) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on or after September 1 will be instructed to complete the DS-260/261 in lieu of the DS-230/3032. The State Department will update travel.state.gov to reflect this guidance and will remove the PDF versions of Forms DS-230 and DS-3032 from public circulation. If a beneficiary submits a DS-230, NVC will instruct him or her to re-submit a DS-260.
  • The State Department will not require DS-260s for beneficiaries of "pipeline" cases already in process at NVC on September 1 if: 1) the case has already been documentarily qualified and sent to scheduling, or 2) NVC receives a single submission of documents that makes a case documentarily qualified. For all other pipeline cases where NVC has occasion to send a "checklist" of missing documents after September 1, NVC will instruct petitioners/agents/beneficiaries to submit the DS-260 along with those missing documents, even if a DS-230 was already on file.
  • Those filing petitions locally overseas (with either USCIS or a consular section) on or after September 1 must submit a DS-260 once the petition is approved. Posts should instruct beneficiaries to enter the principal applicant's DOB in YYYYMMDD format in lieu of an "Invoice ID" on the DS-260 login page.
  • For cases filed locally overseas before September 1, if beneficiaries have already submitted a DS-230 or received instruction to do so, the consular post should accept the DS-230. If a consular post has not yet provided beneficiaries instructions on how to submit their applications, the post must require the DS-260. The consular post should not, as a general rule, require the submission of a DS-260 if a valid, signed, unexpired DS-230 is already on file and requiring the DS-260 would result in a 221(g) refusal for an otherwise issuable case.
  • For Havana Only: Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) cases are the lone exception to the scenarios described above. The DS-260 will not allow an applicant whose case is not current to access the DS-260. For now, NVC will continue to solicit and accept Form DS-230 from applicants who opt in to the CFRP program.
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