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Nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160

Nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160

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Nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160

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  1. Nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160 Kevin Toy Human Factors Methods & Analysis Spring 2011

  2. Background – What is the form DS-160? • The DS-160 is an online nonimmigrant visa application form (ex: H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, B-1, B-2, F-1, R-1, etc.) • Submitted electronically through the U.S. Department of State website • Used to collect necessary information for individuals seeking a temporary visa for travel to the U.S. • Information is used by Consular Officers to process the visa application and determine eligibility for the visa

  3. Benefits of the DS-160 • Security – Information is sent directly to the specified U.S. consulate through the Department of State’s secure network • Efficiency - Expedites the visa application process: • Consular officers can review the information prior to the interview • Promotes the collection of required information accurately • Completely electronic

  4. Drawbacks of the DS-160 Taken from forum: Needagcpls 01-22-2011 “filling out ds 160 is so much information to fill and many information repeats several, filling it for my wife all over again, ” sairamhb 01-22-2011 “welcome to the world of 160 where we are treated like fools” Apesakal04-08-2010 “I was finally able to complete DS160 after several days efforts…” Snootcher 03-07-2010 “This online form program is the WORST form I have ever had to fill out.” • Visa application process is complex, not standardized across different consulates and different types of visas • Instructions can be confusing • The form DS-160 is extremely long • Various glitches/technical problems • No direct personal support

  5. Why is the DS-160 important? • Form is used by millions of individuals applying for visas to visit the U.S. every year (6,422,751 nonimmigrant visas issued in FY 2010) • Reflects competency of the U.S. government to foreign nationals • If the form is filled out incorrectly, could lead to denial of the visa: • Visa application process is costly and time consuming • Various reasons to apply for a visa, may be extremely important for the applicant (ex: employment, school, plans for immigration)

  6. Form DS-160: Understanding the User’s Domain • Who uses the form DS-160? • Anybody applying for a nonimmigrant visa • Typically for school, employment, or pleasure • Due to the importance of filling out the form correctly and the complex nature of U.S. immigration procedure, many individuals will hire a lawyer to assist them • Due to the wide range of users (literally worldwide), I focused on legal professionals completing the forms for clients

  7. Understanding the User’s Domain: User Profile Attorneys • Typical age range: 30-60 • Highly knowledgeable with regards to U.S. immigration law • Not as familiar with the administrative activities regarding specific visa applications • Has direct communication with the client and is familiar with the particulars of individual cases • May or may not have completed the DS-160 (depending on seniority) • Environment: Personal office at law firm Legal Assistants • Typical age range: 22-50 • Familiar with U.S immigration law • Highly knowledgeable with regards to administrative activities regarding specific visa applications • Typically receives information second-hand through attorney or secretary. May confer with client directly during the application process if necessary • Usually has prior experience with the DS-160 and its predecessors • Environment: Personal office or cubicle (depending on seniority)

  8. Understanding the User’s Domain: Scenario Axel Hartcopp, an 18 year old German citizen has been accepted into the University of Texas psychology program. He has all the documentation prepared for his first semester and needs to apply for the F-1 visa. It is summer of 2011 and he plans to enroll in the Fall 2011 semester. He has relatives living in Austin, TX who he has been in contact with and are willing to help him during his stay in the U.S. (provide living arrangements until he can find an apartment, etc.). They recommended an immigration law firm, FosterQuan, LLP (this firm has an office in Austin, TX and is experienced with student visas) to assist him in the visa application process. The attorney assigned to his case has conferred with him and received all the necessary information/documentation for the DS-160 application. A file for his process has been opened and provided to the legal assistant to complete the online application

  9. Understanding the User’s Domain: Task Analysis • Conducted complete Task Analysis for completing the DS-160 • Application is very long: Approx: 25-35 separate pages • Additional fields or even new pages appear depending on responses • Learned more about the system and potential usability issues • Was unable to complete a comprehensive Task Analysis due to time limitations and the variety of options within the system

  10. Understanding the User’s Domain: Preliminary Usability Test • A preliminary usability test of the current DS-160 was conducted using information from the scenario • Participants: 6 Immigration law professionals (4 Legal Assistants, 2 Attorneys) • Participants were provided the fictional scenario and were asked to complete the form DS-160 up to a certain point with the information provided (as well as to perform 3 specific tasks) • Click “Next” without fully completing the current page • Save a partially completed application • Upload a previously saved application • Participants were instructed to “think aloud” while completing each task and provide general feedback regarding interface • Upon completion of the task, participants filled out a short questionnaire and rated the system using the SUS (System Usability Scale)

  11. Understanding the User’s Domain: Preliminary Usability Test Results • Average completion time (from start page to “U.S. Point of Contact” page: Approximately 12 min. • Average SUS score: 41.67 (F-) • Recurring problems: • Confusion regarding specific questions • Page time outs • Incomplete pages (missed fields) • Unnecessary pages

  12. Understanding the User’s Domain: Goals and Requirements • Goals • Afford the user with feedback on page time out • Reduce the number of pages user is required to click through by combining similar/unnecessary sections • Allow user to skip through form without having to complete all sections in set order (provide feedback regarding which sections are incomplete, prevent user from submitting application until all sections are complete) • Identify various bugs in system (random page timeouts, inactive buttons) Developed Understanding of the User Domain: • Research from online forums discussing DS-160 • Task Analysis • Casual Interviews • Preliminary Usability tests

  13. Prototype - Low Fidelity Paper Prototype • Conducted usability testing with 4 participants (Legal assistants) • Focus on: • Allowing navigation throughout form (without needing to complete in order) • Providing feedback for page time out • Minimizing number of separate pages

  14. Prototype – Allowing navigation throughout form • First page after uploading incomplete application • Uploaded application complete up to “sign and submit” section • User must click Next through every page in order to get back to where he/she stopped

  15. Prototype – Allowing navigation throughout form

  16. Providing Feedback for Page Time Out • Should have 20 min before page times out (not true in reality) • Users get no consistent feedback regarding when the page will time out • Provided timer to give consistent feedback

  17. Minimizing Number of Pages Security and Background Section – Broken up into 5 sections All questions are “yes” or “no” Total questions: 16

  18. Form DS-160: Evaluating the Design

  19. Lessons learned/Next Steps • Lessons learned • Schedule specific time frames for each step in the UCD process • Important to do dry runs for usability testing • Next Steps • Identify and define all areas where sections can be combined/minimize number of pages on form • Focus on other usability issues for secondary tasks relating to the form (Testing passport photo, uploading saved application, sign and submit section) • Testing with wider range of participants • Test with high functioning prototype