The U.S. State Department this year introduced a new visa application form, the DS-160. It replaces the DS-156 and DS-157 forms, which most visa applicants have been using to obtain visas for initial entry or return travel to the United States.

For background, except for individuals from certain countries traveling to the U.S. for short-term (90 days maximum) business or pleasure trips and Canadian citizens, most individuals traveling to the U.S. must obtain visas from a United States consulate abroad before traveling to the United States. Upon entry, the Customs and Border Protection agent then issues an "I-94 Departure Record" confirming the visa class and authorized period of stay. While the terms "visa" and "I-94" sometimes are used interchangeably, they are very different documents. The visa allows a foreign national to present him- or herself for entry to the United States. If allowed to enter, the I-94 then governs for how long and what purpose the person may stay.


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