I am having some confusion while filling up form DS 160 for my F1 visa. I would appreciate it if anyone could help me out.

  1. My name on my passport is "XYZ Khan" but I have previously used my nickname "HJDJASD Mahmud" on different social media accounts. I tried to edit some of them but was unable to gain access to some of them. When people search with my email those social accounts appear.

Now there is a question in DS 160 "Have you ever used other names (i.e. maiden, religious, professional, alias, etc.)?" I was wondering if I need to mention the name "HJDJASD Mahmud" here on this field. or there is no need to include that? Please advise.

  1. I have been involved in freelance web development since 2020 and later 2021, I met one woman on Fiverr and since then I have been working for her and her company (I didn't receive any formal contract or didn't sign any, just working as an independent contractor) and they have featured me on their website team portion and I use an official email from their company.

Do I need to include this as an employment? Also, do I need to list this official email address in the DS160 form since they ask to enter all used within the last 5 years?

P.S: I also work as a lecturer at a private university and already entered that info. It is not letting me add more than one as present employment. I was wondering if that (work for her company) needs to be added as previous employment. Please advise.

1 Answer 1


The most important rule for completing visa applications is: answer the questions truthfully. Thus:

• Use of Other Names

You have described using the name “HJDJASD Mahmud” online. This is another name, and you used it to identify yourself. In evaluating your application, the State Department may well seek to look at your online presence(s). If you reveal the “HJDJASD Mahmud” name in your application, the State Department may see whatever you posted under that name…and it will evaluate your visa application based on all your information and circumstances.

However, the State Department undoubtedly has research and investigative resources that allow it to make very detailed enquiries about visa applicants. If you do not include the “HJDJASD Mahmud” name in your application and the State Department discovers you used this other name, then the State Department will immediately see that you did not answer the DS-160 names question truthfully. If that happens, your visa application will surely be denied, and you will be banned for deception under 8 USC §1182.

TL;dr Include the the “HJDJASD Mahmud” name along with whatever information you recall about platforms and dates.

• Employment

The DS-160 asks about your “employment.” You ask if you should mention self-employment and contract work.

US law draws a distinction between working as an employee for a business owned by another, and working as a contractor for a business owned by another, and working as a self-employed person.

However, classification often becomes imprecise and unclear. In some areas (computing one’s earnings for income tax purposes; eligibility for unemployment insurance; et al) the categories overlap, and are not mutually exclusive. To complicate matters, everyday language regarding the words “work,” “employment,” “contractor” et al is itself imprecise, changeable, and sometimes incorrect depending upon the “areas” being addressed, and the expertise and training of the person doing the asking, and the other person doing the answering.

The most prudent approach is to pick the most important of your work endeavors — probably the one that earns the most money — and select this as your “primary occupation.” Other incomes can be added as secondary sources, perhaps in a comment space where you can add additional information.

The State Department employee who reviews your visa application will be interested in how you support yourself, so all sources of your income should be included. If the State Department sees (through its own investigation) income sources that you did not mention, you will fall into the same denied-and-banned-for-deception trap described in the above discussion about usage of multiple names. They will not be impressed with a hyper-legal explanation that you didn’t mention such-and-such contract work because “contract work” isn’t “employment.”

TL;dr Include all your sources of income.

  • "You have described using the name “HJDJASD Mahmud” online. This is another name, and you used it to identify yourself." Do you mean that for the purposes of DS160, social media nicknames are treated in the same way as actual names?
    – mintay
    Commented Mar 13 at 20:29
  • Not quite that. The DS-160 asks about "names," leaving up to the applicant to decide if State means "legal names" or what people call you. Because the penalty for guessing wrong is so high, it behooves the applicant to construe the question to cover all names by which the applicant has been known... Commented Mar 13 at 20:52
  • ...This secondary source writing about how to answer this question, says "Have you ever used other names (i.e. maiden, religious, professional, alias, etc.)? If not, select ‘No’. If you used any other names in the past, select ‘Yes’ and list them here. If there are different variations of your name in different documents, you can enter those variations here." The use of the word "alias" and "different documents" indicates that the author of this advice — a law firm — agrees. Commented Mar 13 at 20:54
  • The words "professional" and "alias" are coming from the question itself, not from the law firm. It seems like in this question they are looking for more or less official names (including stage names and alike) but not necessarily social media nicknames, since later in the DS 160 form there is a question specifically about social media accounts. IANAL, of course, but at least that's the way I have always understood and answered this question.
    – mintay
    Commented Mar 13 at 22:16
  • Then you're ahead of me: I'm a US citizen and have never had to complete the DS-160 form. OTOH, I'm a lawyer. Reducing the risk that the OP's application will be refused seems a worthy aim. Commented Mar 14 at 15:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .