|R 200107Z DEC 01
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS
SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM
UNCLAS STATE 218077
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT, AUSP
SUBJECT: SOME FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE DS-156
REF: STATE 151227
1. Reftel announced the introduction of an updated Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-156) to take the place of the expired OF-156. Posts were asked to begin to use the new form as soon as possible and were permitted to use existing OF-156 stocks for a "reasonable period of time"
as they made the transition to the DS-156.
2. Now that nearly four months have passed since the introduction, all posts should be using the DS-156. In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it is especially important that all posts use the same version of the form. Accordingly, the Department asks any posts that may still be using the OF-156 to destroy all remaining stocks, regardless of how large such stocks may be, and to begin using the DS-156 immediately. Post may no longer accept the OF-156 from the public.
3. The DS-156 is available on the A/RPS/DIR Intranet site (http://10.4.64.84). This site is the official repository for all Department forms. The form is also available to the general public on the Department's Internet site (www.state.gov).
4. Size: The Bureau of Consular Affairs made a conscious decision to go with a full-size sheet (8.5 X 11 or A4) rather than the small size of the OF-156. The larger sheet is easier to read and gives officers more space to write notes. Several posts have asked whether they are required to use a full-size version of the DS-156, citing the concern that existing file cabinets were designed for
the smaller OF-156. The answer is that if posts want to shrink the DS-156 down, they may, provided that the smaller version remains legible. However, CA strongly recommends that posts
use the full-size form. Posts can order new file cabinets using post funds if filing space for refusals becomes a problem. In no case may posts refuse to accept the full-size DS-156 from an applicant.
5. PRA is the Law: Posts are again reminded that the DS- 156 is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), which is administered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Pursuant to the PRA, OMB gives approval for agencies to use "information collections" (forms that ask the public for information) like the DS-156 for a maximum of three years at a time. Posts may not/not make any changes to the text of the DS-156, nor may they modify the layout.
6. Supplemental Forms: Other than the DS-156E, the DS-156K and the DS-3052, there are no/no approved supplements to the DS-156. Any posts that may be using an unapproved information collection must cease immediately. The process laid out by the PRA for gaining OMB approval is
long and cumbersome and is meant for forms that are used worldwide. Information collections developed by post are simply not permitted.
7. Instruction Sheet: Finally, posts should be aware that the Department jettisoned the OF-156 instruction sheet.
Because the instruction sheet was technically part of the form and because the PRA prohibits posts from modifying the text of the form, posts were thus unable to modify the instructions to include post-specific information. We therefore got rid of the instruction sheet entirely in order to give posts the freedom to handle instructions as they see fit. If posts wish to produce their own instruction sheet, they may do so without Department approval, but such instructions may not be part of the DS-