Applications for non-immigrant visas (NIV) for the United States will be submitted and accepted online from Feb 1 using a new electronic form.

Under the new system, candidates have to submit their application for NIV through the internet, eliminating the need for paper work and streamlining the process.

The aspirants will continue to complete their visa application form online, as they did previously with the Electronic Visa Application Form.

“The difference will be that now the same form can be submitted online, through the internet. As the form is web-based, it can be revised and improved as necessary,” Jim Herman, minister counsellor for Consular Affairs, US Embassy, New Delhi, told media persons here Tuesday.

The new form is also more user-friendly as it incorporates all the previous three forms – DS-156, 157, 157 – into one single form DS-160.

A candidate who is scheduled for an interview Feb 1 will follow the new procedure and will have to fill up the new form from Jan 19 in view of the processing time required.

In the future, applications could be pre-processed and pre-screened before an applicant's interview, reducing processing delays, he said.

With the growing demand worldwide for US visas, the State Department is committed to using new technologies to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the visa application process, he explained.

Customer service surveys at posts that have piloted the use of the new DS-160 indicate greater applicant satisfaction.

Prior to his posting in India, Herman was deputy director in the Office of Consular Systems and Technology (CST), managing close to a thousand specialists and technicians responsible for designing, deploying and supporting all US consular IT systems around the world.

This helped Herman prepare for the rollout across India of the newly developed DS-160, the web-based NIV application form to incorporate all existing NIV applications into one interactive, online form.

US consular officers shall conduct information sessions for the public to explain the new process Wednesday and Jan 19 at the American Center, New Marine Lines.

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