us visa photo requirements

 What Are the US Visa Photo Requirements?

If you’re planning a trip to the United States, you need to provide a photo of yourself when applying for your visa. The visa photo is an integral part of the application process. There are specific photo requirements, so it’s essential to understand them before you submit your application. Read on to learn everything you need to know about US visa photo requirements.

The Importance of Learning the US Visa Photo Requirements Before Taking Your Photos

When applying for a US visa, there are requirements on how your photo should look. These requirements are in place to ensure that your photo is an accurate representation of your appearance. US embassies and consulates are strict about photo requirements for US visa, but if you meet these, you should have no problem getting your visa approved.

What Are the Photo Requirements for US Visa?

The following are the general US visa photo requirements as specified by the United States government:

  • Your photo should be printed in color.
  • The photographs must measure 5 × 5 centimeters (2 × 2 inches).
  • Your head in the photo should be between 22 millimeters and 35 millimeters (1 inch and 1 3/8 inches) in height. This is from the top of your head to the bottom of your chin.
  • Alternatively, your head must cover between 50 percent and 69 percent of the total height of the image.
  • Your photo must be within the last six months. It must show how you currently look.
  • The backdrop of your photo should be white or off-white, with no marks.
  • The photo should be a full-face shot, with you facing directly toward the camera.
  • Both your eyes should be open.
  • Your expression should be neutral.
  • Clothing should be what you wear regularly.
  • Don’t wear uniforms in your photos. An exception to this is religious clothing worn daily.
  • You should not wear hats and other head coverings in your photo, except religious headwear worn every day. Your entire face must not be covered and without any shadows.
  • Headphones and other wireless devices are not allowed. However, hearing aids or similar items are permitted.
  • Wearing eyeglasses is generally not allowed. However, in cases where you need them for medical reasons, you must present a statement signed by a medical professional. 
  • If you need to wear glasses for medical reasons:
    • The eyeglass frames must not cover your eyes.
    • Shadows, glare, or refraction from the eyeglasses must not obscure your eyes.

Additional Photo Requirements for Non-Immigrant and Immigrant Visas

There are additional US visa photo requirements for non-immigrant and immigrant special visas. 

For Non-immigrant Visas

If you apply for a non-immigrant visa online using the DS-160 or DS-1648 form, you must upload your digital photo as part of the application process. The digital image must meet the following requirements:

  • The image must have a square aspect ratio. 
  • The smallest acceptable pixel size is 600 x 600 pixels, while the maximum allowable pixel size is 1200 x 1200 pixels.
  • It must be a colored image, at 24 bits per pixel, and in the sRGB color space. This is the standard output format for most digital cameras.
  • The file format must be JPEG.
  • For file size, the digital image should be less than 240 kilobytes.
  • If you need to compress the image to meet the file size requirement, the image compression ratio should be less than 20:1.

You also have the option to scan an existing photo. If you do so, consider the following:

  • The size of the scanned image should be 51 x 51 mm (2 x 2 inches), the same as the standard US visa photo size.
  • The scan resolution should be 12 pixels per millimeter (300 pixels per inch).

For Immigrant Visas

If you use Form DS-260 to apply for an immigrant visa, you must bring two identical photos to your immigrant visa interview. The images must be:

  • Printed on high-quality photo paper
  • 51 x 51 mm (2 x 2 inches) in size, the standard US visa photo size

For Diversity Visas (DV)

If you are applying for a Diversity Visa (DV) online, you must include a digital image with your application. Your digital image requirements are the same as the requirements for non-immigrant visas and are as follows:

  • The file format must be JPEG.
  • For file size, the digital image should be less than 240 kilobytes.
  • The smallest acceptable pixel size is 600 x 600 pixels.

Scanning a photo is also an option. Again, the requirements are the same as for non-immigrant visas:

  • The size of the scanned image should be 51 x 51 mm (2 x 2 inches).
  • The scan resolution should be 12 pixels per millimeter (300 pixels per inch).

For Diversity Visa Program Candidates

For the DV interview, each candidate must bring two (2) identical photos. Your images must be:

  • Printed on high-quality photo paper
  • 51 x 51 mm (2 x 2 inches) in size, the standard US visa photo size

Additional Tips for Getting Your US Visa Photo Right the First Time Around

Here are additional tips you can use to quickly fulfill your photo requirements for US visa:

Make Use of the Free Cropping Tool

The US Department of State provides a free tool that you can use to crop and resize your digital photos. It has a built-in guide so you can resize your face to meet visa standards.

Tips for Taking Photos of Babies

Babies and toddlers should appear alone in their visa photos. Their eyes should be open, and there should be no other people in the frame.

One tip for taking a baby photo is to lay them on their back on a white sheet. Another is to take pictures while they’re in a sheet-covered car seat.

Tips on Appearance Changes

U.S. embassies and consulates require new photos or digital images if the ones submitted do not accurately portray your current appearance, even if they are less than six months old. You may need to submit a new photo if you:

  • Suffered severe facial damage due to surgery or trauma
  • Performed extensive work on the face, including piercings or tattoos
  • Had significant weight change
  • Underwent gender transition
  • In most cases, the embassy or consulate won’t ask for a new photo if you’re still easily recognized in the photo provided. If you only dye or grow out your hair, your old photo is acceptable.
  • If under 16 years old, your child won’t usually need to provide a new photo if their appearance has changed due to natural aging. 

Work With an Experienced Photography Studio

The US government highly encourages you to use a professional visa photo service to ensure that your photo meets all the requirements. 

Using a professional photo service will save you time and hassle in fulfilling photo requirements for a US visa. It is well worth the small investment to use a professional service to get your photograph taken care of correctly the first time around.

If you are looking for a photo studio in Calgary, we’re here to help. We are experts in US visa photos, so you don’t worry about the nuances. Our friendly and helpful staff will also assist you every step of the way.

In addition to US visa photos, Photo Studio Calgary provides photo printing in Calgary, photo restoration in Calgary, and even permanent resident card renewal photos.

Take note that the US consulate or embassy where you apply still has the final say on whether to accept your photo or digital image.

Final Thoughts on the US Visa Photo Requirements

If you make sure to meet all the US visa photo requirements, your visa should be approved without any issues. This process can seem daunting, but if you have all the required documents and information, you should be good to go.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution and get a professional passport photo taken. If you’re in the Calgary area, there’s no better place to go than Photo Studio Calgary. We’ll take care of everything for you and make sure you’re fully prepared for your visa application. So why wait? Book your appointment today and ease your worries.