When you apply for any type of US visa, you might be required to submit one or two photographs of yourself as part of your documents. These photos are used to determine your identity and obtain your biometric information. The photos are submitted into the US databases and they are used every time you enter the US to prevent identity theft.
Depending on the US Embassy you apply from and the type of 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 application, while digital photos can be attached online when you submit your Form DS-160 or Form DS-260. You must follow the instructions of the US Embassy and submit whichever format they ask for.
This article will go through the US visa photo requirements as well as the photo requirements for particular types of US visas.
US Visa Photo Requirements
Your US visa photo must be:
- Taken within the last 6 months.
- In color and with no shadows.
- Without any worn electronic devices. If you need a hearing device or something similar, it is allowed.
- The US visa photo size must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).
- With a plain white background.
- You must be facing the camera in the photo for the whole face to be seen.
- You must have a neutral expression and both eyes open.
- You cannot wear a uniform. However, 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.
- You must not wear eyeglasses except for medical reason. 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.
- Sized 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.
US visa photo do’s and don’t’s
Digital Photo Requirements
If the US Embassy you are applying from 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 photo must be in JPEG photo format.
- 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 20:1 ratio.
If you already have a physical photo which meets the physical photo requirements, you can scan it and make it as following:
- 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:
- For applicants using Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, you might be required to submit a digital photo which must meet the digital photo requirements.
- In addition to the digital photo, you might also be required 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 to the standard US visa photo requirements
Diversity Visa Photo Requirements
For those who are entering the Diversity Visa (DV) program or lottery, photos are also required. The photo has to meet these requirements:
- It must be uploaded as 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 are selected for the Diversity Visa Program, you are then required to bring more photos that comply to 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 recommended that you seek professional photo services to take the photos and submit them to the US Embassy you are applying to.
There are many professional services which 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, but it is guaranteed 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 at 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 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 the 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 be required to submit a new photo. This would be required 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 be required to submit a new photo if you dyed your hair a different color or grew a beard. Teenagers will also not be required 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 are taken from https://travel.state.gov)