Photo Requirements for Visa Processing
In order to safeguard the traveling public and utilize the latest biometric identification techniques, all applicants for American non-immigrant visas must present full-face photographs, taken against a white or off-white background, showing the entire, uncovered head. Applicants who wear a head covering or hat for religious reasons may continue to do so, but only if that head covering does not obscure any portion of the face.
Please ensure that your visa photograph meets the following requirements:
- The photograph of each visa applicant must be an unmounted full face photo (taken within the past six months) 2 by 2 inches (either in color or black and white against a white background), and should be stapled or glued to Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application). The staples should be placed as far away as possible from the applicant’s face.
- Sunglasses or other paraphernalia, which would detract from the face, are not acceptable. A photograph of a person wearing a head covering is permitted, provided that enough of the face is uncovered to establish identity. A photograph of a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that conceals portions of the face and does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable.
- Since a separate visa is issued to each qualified applicant, an individual photo is required in all cases. Group photos are not acceptable.
- It is particularly important that the photo be recent and clearly in focus. It is vital that the background be white or off-white. Photos taken in front of busy, multi-colored, patterned, or dark backgrounds will not be accepted.
- A "full face" photo is one in which the applicant is facing the camera directly. The applicant should not be looking down or to either side. The face should cover about 50 percent of the area of the photo. It is preferable that the ears be exposed. The key requirement is that the photograph clearly identify the applicant.
- The photograph should measure 2 inches square (roughly 50 mm square) with the head centered in the frame. The head (measured from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin) should measure between 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm) with the eye level between 1 1/8 inch to 1 3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo.
- Photos of members of the military, airline employees or other personnel wearing hats are not acceptable.
- Digitally-altered photographs will not be accepted. This includes alterations of color or pattern in the background of the picture. Photographs that are out-of-focus, air-brushed or otherwise substandard will not be accepted. Digital photographs must be of sufficiently high resolution that the pixels are not visible.