When applying for a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa to the U.S., such as a visitor visa, you will need to complete State Department Form DS-160 online. Then you will print it out. But what if you're looking at the printout, and see that you have made a mistake; perhaps spelling your own name wrong, or reversing the numbers on your birthday. There's no obvious way to go back and redo the form.
However, there's no need to panic, either. Although it's true that the State Department does not provide a way to go back and change an already submitted DS-160, you can go online to submit a new, corrected DS-160, print the new confirmation page, and bring that to your interview at the consulate or embassy.
Although a birth date or wrong name is considered a material mistake, some minor mistakes might not be material to your application. Still it's best to submit a corrected DS-160 before you go to the consular interview, if at all possible.
Dealing with the error might be less work than you think. First, check how many days have gone by since you submitted the original application.
If it is less than 30 days, go back to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website page for the DS-160. Click the tab for "Retrieve an Application." Hopefully you took note of the application ID number from the DS-160 you submitted earlier, because you'll need to enter that application ID number in the box. Then click the Retrieve Application button.
In the next dialog box, click "Create an Application." Next, you'll have to answer the security questions to get back into your form. Once you're in, correct your mistake, then review everything, then electronically sign and submit the application. You will be given a new confirmation and bar code to print and bring to your interview.
If more than 30 days have gone by since you submitted the application with the mistake on it, you can upload that application back into CEAC, if you saved it on to your computer or other storage device. Go back to the CEAC website, click on DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, choose the consulate or embassy where you will be applying from the drop-down menu, and then click the "Upload an Application" tab. Choose the location of your saved file, and click the Upload Data button.
After making your changes, save and submit the new application. You will be given a new confirmation and bar code.
If you never saved your original application, and it has been more than 30 days since you submitted it, you'll need to start over. Go back on the CEAC website and fill in a new DS-160. Print the confirmation page for this new application.
If you used the first (incorrect) DS-160 submission to schedule your visa appointment or pay the visa application fee already, you will need to bring the confirmation pages from both the new (corrected) and the original (incorrect) DS-160 to your interview.
If you have not yet scheduled your interview or paid the fee for the nonimmigrant visa, you're probably okay just bringing the confirmation page from the newer, corrected DS-160. (You should bring the old one too, just in case, but make sure you mark it as the old one.)
If you do not discover the mistake until right before your interview, you might still have an opportunity to correct the mistake. When you check in for your appointment, let the consulate employee know that you would like to correct an error on your application. The consulate employee can advise you whether the mistake is material to your application and how you should proceed.
In some cases, the employee can correct mistakes directly in the consular database, in which case you would not need to correct your DS-160.
If not, some consulates also have computers available for you to use to create a new application. You might even be allowed to leave the consulate and use a computer at a nearby location to create a new application and then come back later in the day. Policies vary from consulate to consulate, depending on each consulate's local resources and workload.
It's not a good idea to show up for your interview expecting the visa officer to make a correction to the DS-160 at that time, however. You are the only one who can edit your DS-160. If you made a mistake that is material to your application and it is not corrected prior to your interview, you could be required to reschedule for another day, if the mistake is material to your application.
Nevertheless, even if you do not discover the mistake until right before or even during the interview, you should inform the officer right away. Do not keep silent about a mistake on the DS-160 in the hopes that the consular officer will not notice. Some mistakes can affect the officer's decision whether to issue you a visa. But a visa officer at the interview might determine that some mistakes don't need correction, such as a misspelling on an address of a company you worked for five years ago.
Even if the officer requires you to reschedule your interview, that's much better than risking an allegation of fraud down the road.
The information you input into your DS-160 can also end up on your printed visa. So, if you make a mistake in your birthday, it could end up being printed incorrectly on your visa. It is extremely important to correct any mistake in your biographical information. Otherwise, it could result in delays in receiving your visa and cause big problems when you actually try to use the visa for travel.