Depending on the US Embassy you apply from and the type of US visa, the photos required might be physical photos or digital photos. Physical photos mean that you have to print them and send them as part of the visa application, while digital photos can be attached online when you submit your Form DS-160 or Form DS-260.
US Visa Photo Requirements
Your US visa photos must be:
- The US visa photo size should be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). The photo should be positioned in a way that the head is between 1 and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of your chin to the top of the head.
- In color.
- Taken within the last 6 months.
- With no shadows.
- With a plain white background.
- You must face the camera in the photo.
- Have a neutral expression.
- Have both eyes open.
- You cannot wear a uniform. However, the clothes that they wear normally every day. Religious clothing that the person wears daily is allowed. The head must not be covered and the hairline has to be visible unless the person wears a headdress for religious purposes. The headdress must not cover the face.
- Without any worn electronic devices. Unless you need a hearing device or something similar.
- You must not wear eyeglasses except for medical reasons. If for example, the person has had an eye surgery lately, they need a statement from a doctor must be provided to justify them. If eyeglasses have to be worn, the frames must not cover the eyes and there must be no glare or shadows in the face from the glasses.
US visa photo do’s and don’t’s
Digital Photo Requirements
If the US Embassy wants you to submit a digital photo online, it must meet these requirements:
- The photo must be square and 1200×1200 pixels.
- The photo must be in color such as the sRGB color space.
- The format of the photo must be in JPEG.
- The size of the photo must be less or equal to 240 kilobytes (kB).
- If your photo is bigger than that size, it can be compressed to a ratio of less than or equal to a 20:1 ratio.
If you already have a physical photo which meets the physical photo requirements, you can scan it and make it as follows:
- The photo has to be in dimensions of 2×2 inches (51×51 mm).
- The resolution of the scanned photo must be 300 pixels per inch or 12 pixels per millimeter.
Nonimmigrant Visa Photo Requirements
In addition to the standard requirements, there are also requirements for the types of visas. Some of the requirements related to US nonimmigrant visa pictures include:
- Applicants using Form DS-160, might need to submit a digital photo which must meet the digital photo requirements.
- In addition to the digital photo, you might also have to submit 1 physical photo as per their requirements
Immigrant Visa Photo Requirements
For those who are applying for a US immigrant visa to permanently stay in the US, you must submit two physical photos in photo quality paper that comply with the standard US visa photo requirements
Diversity Visa Photo Requirements
For those who are entering the Diversity Visa (DV) program or lottery, the photo has to meet these requirements:
- You should upload a digital photo.
- The photo must be in JPEG format.
- The photo must be square and its dimensions must be 600×600 pixels.
- The size of the photo must be 240 kilobytes (kB).
If you scan an existing photo, it must meet these requirements:
- The resolution of the photo must be 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per millimeter).
If you get selected for the Diversity Visa Program, you should bring more photos that comply with the photo requirements for US visa.
Where to Take US visa Photos?
The US visa photo requirements are quite extensive, so it is difficult to fulfill them all by yourself. That is why it is better to seek professional photo services to take the photos and submit them to the US Embassy you are applying to.
There are many professional services that will take photos of you which fulfill the requirements and send you a digital copy as well as provide physical photos. They are more expensive than taking photos of yourself, you will have a greater chance that the photos will be accepted by the Embassy.
On the other hand, if you submit photos taken with bad quality cameras, the US Embassy might reject them and you will have to submit them again. This will increase your processing time and it will take longer for you to get your visa. So, the best way to go about submitting your photos is to take them to professional stores.
However, if you take the photos yourself, then you must make sure that your camera is of high quality, that all requirements are fulfilled, and that you do not change your appearance using computer software, except to remove the red-eye effect.
How to Get a US Visa Photo for Your Baby or Toddler?
If you are also applying for your baby or toddler to have a US visa, you must also submit photos of them. This can be tricky as babies and toddlers do not sit still for long, so you can either try to take the photos yourself or seek professional services. The requirements and tips for baby and toddler visa photos are as follows:
- The photo must be of the baby or toddler and no one else must be in the picture.
- The baby must have the eyes open for the photo.
- You can lay the baby down on a white sheet and take the photo, but make sure there are no shadows on the baby’s face.
- You can put the baby in a car seat, but cover the car seat with a white sheet to provide a blank background.
What if I Changed my Appearance Significantly in the Last Months?
If your photo is not older than 6 months, but your appearance has changed significantly then you might have to submit a new photo. This would be necessary if you have done the following:
- Went through extensive facial plastic surgery.
- Added or removed piercings or tattoos on your face.
- Gained or lost a significant amount of weight.
- Transitioned to a different gender.
You will not have to submit a new photo if you dyed your hair or grew a beard. Teenagers will also not need to submit new photos if they had a change in appearance due to a normal growth process. As long as you are recognizable in the photos, they will be acceptable. However, the US Embassy is the one which decides whether your photos are acceptable or not.
(Photos source: https://travel.state.gov)