WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE “PASSPORT STYLE PHOTOGRAPHS” THAT USCIS REQUIRES WITH CERTAIN APPLICATIONS AND VISA PETITIONS?
USCIS requires that you provide photographs of yourself with your visa petition or with certain immigration benefit applications (asylum, adjustment of status, employment authorization, and others). Below are USCIS’ requirements for the “passport-style photographs” that must be sent with petitions/applications that require photos. These photos are required for the DV lottery (diversity visa lottery), Adjustment of Status (green card) Application, all visa applications, U.S. passports, and other immigration benefits.
There are actually a surprising number of memos, directives, and other guidance from USCIS and the U.S. Department of State detailing strict requirements for these photos even though they don’t explain it at all anywhere in the form instructions or on their website. The State Department even offers an online tool for cropping your passport style photos at https://tsg.phototool.state.gov/photo. They have specific instructions for infants as well.
According to the guidelines from the State Department:
Your photos must be
- In color
- 2″x 2″ Two inch by two inch in size
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
- Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
- Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
- Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
- Eyeglasses are no longer allowed in new visa photos, except in rare circumstances when eyeglasses cannot be removed for medical reasons; e.g., the applicant has recently had ocular surgery and the eyeglasses are necessary to protect the applicant’s eyes. A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner must be provided in these cases. If the eyeglasses are accepted for medical reasons:
- The frames of the eyeglasses must not cover the eye(s).
- There must not be glare on eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
- There must not be shadows or refraction from the eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
- If you normally wear a hearing device or similar articles, they may be worn in your photo.
Snapshots, magazine photos, low quality vending machine or mobile phone photos, and full-length photographs are not acceptable.
You can go to most chain drug stores and get these photos done in five minutes for about ten dollars, which is what I would recommend doing. There are also many professional services that offer various systems for doing these for you. Finally, more and more people are starting to just do it themselves which is why the State Department created a tool to help people with that.
For all the details about the requirements for photographs submitted with visa petitions and application for immigration benefits see our Immigration Benefit/Visa Petition Photo Page on the topic.
HOW TO SUBMIT THE REQUIRED PHOTOGRAPH OF YOURSELF TO IMMIGRATION WITH YOUR APPLICATION OR PETITION
You can read all the boring details here otherwise see the important highlights below.
Online Visa/Passport Photo Services
- Online Passport Photos with same day delivery (guaranteed to be government compliant)
- Walmart Passport Photos: Walmart has a service where you can upload your photo on their website and then pickup your photos at any of their locations.
- 123passportphotos provides passport photos for multiple governments
U.S. Government Online Photo Tool
The U.S. Government provides this photo tool free of charge. You can take the photo of yourself and then upload your photo and use the tool to crop and resize your image to the proper dimensions (600x600px).
TIPS FOR TAKING YOUR OWN PHOTO
- You should be able to see some of the white background above the top of your head down to just above your chest
- have someone else take the photo don’t try to submit a selfie
- Head is in the center of the frame
- solid white background
- stand 3-6 feet away from the white wall and avoid using flash so you don’t cast a shadow on the wall behind you
- Keep a neutral face expression looking at the camera straight on
- Don’t wear glasses or a hat or any sort of uniform
- Use the DOS photo tool (https://tsg.phototool.state.gov/photo)to upload the photo straight from your phone and crop it to exactly 600×600 pixels (minimum resolution required)
- You don’t need to use a ruler and measure out the exact dimensions-just make your photo look like the examples.
You can find templates for cropping and printing your photo for USCIS on our immigration photo requirements page along with more examples and information.