Visa Photo Requirements – Everything You Need to Know

Group of 8 visa photos of young woman on a white background.
Obtaining a visa from the U.S. Department of State or any foreign government can be a complex process depending on governmental regulations and treaties, including COVID travel restrictions. Don’t risk the success of your application by submitting a photograph that does not meet the necessary visa photo requirements.

The photo that you submit with your application must be very specific in terms of its dimensions, its layout, and how you appear in the photo. Double-check that your photo is acceptable before you complete your application.

The requirements in this guide are for a non-immigrant visa to the United States by the Department of State. The article is meant for informational purposes only.

The requirements might be different for an immigrant visa application and travel visas to countries outside the United States.

Photo Dimensions and Physical Specifications

The photo must be a high-resolution print on glossy or matte finish photo stock measuring 2 inches by 2 inches (51 cm by 51 cm) in height and width. The photo must be clean and free of any defects that could include digital artifacts, including dead pixels and physical damage such as spots, stains, or creases.

The photo cannot be older than 6 months. Even a photo that has been taken within the past six months might not be deemed acceptable if the applicant’s facial appearance has changed significantly in the interim.

Events that could change your physical appearance include cosmetic or facial surgery, tattoos, and significant weight changes.

Image Requirements

There are several visa photo requirements that pertain to technical aspects of the image itself.

The photo must have a plain white or off-white background with your face centered in the photo. Your face must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches in height and centered.

The photo must be well lit so that there are no shadows on your face. You should never submit a selfie as an application photo, as you will be unlikely to take the picture at the correct angle and appropriate distance from the camera.

It is advisable to have a professional visa photo service with experience taking passport and visa photos do this for you.

Various examples of visa photo requirementsExamples of correct and incorrect visa photos

How the Applicant Appears in the Picture

In addition to technical aspects of the image, there are several visa photo requirements that concern your appearance in the photo.

The applicant must be looking at the camera with his or her eyes open. His or her entire face must be visible.

While a baby or toddler need not his or her eyes open fully in the photo, the child’s head must be facing toward the camera. One way to do this is to lay the child on his or her back on a white sheet and take the photo from above.

Another way is to cover a car seat with a white cloth and place the child in the seat, which ensures that the child has proper neck support for the photo. The cloth will provide a proper white background while the car seat will help the child remain in the correct position as you take the photo.

The applicant must not wear anything that obscures the face. Head coverings that hide the top of the head are permissible if they are for religious purposes and are worn all the time.

The applicant must be wearing ordinary attire and cannot be wearing a costume or uniform, including military uniforms. The only exception to this rule is for garments that are worn for religious reasons and are worn every day.

Eyeglasses may not be worn for a visa photograph except for circumstances in which it is medically necessary for glasses to be worn at all times—for example, to protect the eyes from injury.

Hearing aids and similar devices may appear in the photo if they are worn all the time. Headsets, headphones, and other listening devices may not be worn in photographs.

Attaching Your Photo to the Visa Application

The U.S. Department of State advises applicants to staple their photo to the application. Be sure that the photo is aligned with the square provided for it on the application, and take care not to fold, bend, or damage the photo while attaching it to the application.

Passport and Visa Services

An online visa service can take some of the guesswork and hassle out of the visa application process by guiding you through it every step of the way – including online visa photo services for visa applications. They will make sure that your picture meets all the visa photo requirements so that you can make your travel plans with confidence.

This article may contain links to external internet sites including the U.S. Department of State. This article is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement of Passport and Visa Services by any other agency.

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