As part of its transition to paperless processing of immigrant visa applications (IVPP), the US Department of State (US DOS) announced worldwide implementation of electronic forms DS-260 and DS-261.
The DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application replaces the paper-based DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (parts I and II); while the DS-261 Choice of Address and Agent will replace the DS-3032 Choice of Address and Agent.
The transition to the paperless forms became effective as of September 1, 2013. Use of the DS-260/261 is mandatory for new cases. That is, persons whose applications arrive at the National Visa Center (NVC) from the Immigration Service (USCIS) on or after September 1st must update their filings with the DS-260/261.
DOS has stated that it will not require those with cases already in process or in the “pipeline” on as of September 1, 2013, to also complete the DS-260/261 if:
- the case has been “documentarily qualified” and sent for scheduling, or
- NVC is able to documentarily qualify the case after receiving a single set of supporting documents.
If NVC finds the need after September 1st to request missing documents to complete a pending case, it will direct the applicant to also submit a DS-260 even if a DS-230 is on file. This of course will likely add time to case processing until the transition period is complete.
A similar approach is being taken for immigrant visa cases that are currently in process abroad. Separate instructions apply to Cuban Family Reunification Parole cases.
Ms. Wadhwani is a partner in the Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.