The Department of State has issued a final rule, effective August 3, 2010, on electronic applications. The agency has developed and introduced an electronic application process for immigrant visa applicants to eventually replace the current paper-based application process, which consists of Parts 1 and 2 of Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. The Department will continue to accept the DS-230 when necessary, but plans to eliminate the DS-230 eventually and replace it with the DS-260, Electronic Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, which is designed to be completed and signed electronically.

The final rule’s supplementary information explains that the procedure is the same for the immigrant visa applicant, except that he or she will not be required to print a form to take to the visa interview. All information entered into the DS-260 will be available to the National Visa Center and to the consular officer at the time of application processing and interview. The applicant must sign the DS-260 electronically at the time of submission by clicking a “Sign and Submit Application’’ box in the application. The applicant will also be required at the interview to swear under oath that the information provided on the DS-260 is true, and to provide a biometric signature. Photos, passports, and fingerscans collected as part of the application process will identify the applicant.

A third party may assist the applicant in preparing the DS-260, but the applicant must electronically sign the application. The applicant must identify in the application any third party who has assisted in the preparation of the DS-260.

The final rule is available here.