US Visa Photo Requirements for Visa Application

Your photo is one of the most important parts of your visa application. To be accepted, your photograph must meet certain US visa photo requirements. Depending on the types of US visa you are applying for and the US Embassy you apply from, you will be required to submit digital or physical photos. Some embassies may not ask you to upload a digital photograph when you submit your Form DS-160 or Form DS-26. In such cases, your photo will be taken at the VAC (Visa Application Center) or OFC (Offsite Facilitation Center). It is at the discretion of the US Embassy or Consulate where you apply to accept digital or physical photographs.

Here you will learn everything about the photo requirements for a US visa application and how to provide a suitable photo.

US Visa Photo Requirements
US visa photo requirements

US visa photo requirements

Your visa application photo must meet certain required criteria regarding size and other features. If your photo does not meet the criteria, it will delay the visa application process. Your photo must be taken within the last 6 months, reflecting your current appearance. Following are the US visa photo specification for digital as well as physical photos that will help you to apply for a US visa:

Requirements for digital photo

If the US embassy requires you to submit a digital photo online, it must meet the following requirements. 

ParticularsRequirements for digital photograph
AcquisitionYou can submit an image file captured with a digital camera or digitize a paper photograph with a scanner.
File sizeSize of the file containing the photo must be less or equal to 240 kilobytes (KB).
DimensionThe photo must be square and acceptable dimensions are:
– Minimum dimensions are: 600 x 600 pixels- Maximum dimensions are: 1200 x 1200 pixels 
ColorThe photo must be in color (24 bits per pixel), such as the sRGB color space.
File formatFormat of the photo must be in JPEG (.jpg extension)
Compression ratioIf the photo is bigger than the required size, it can be compressed so that it is under the maximum file size. The photo should be compressed to a ratio of less than or equal to 20:1. 
Digital photo requirements

Requirements for physical photo

If you have a paper photograph that meets US visa photo requirements, you can scan it in the following format: 

ParticularsRequirements for scanning a photograph
Print sizeThe size of the paper photograph should be in dimensions of 2 x 2 inches (51 mm x 51 mm) Square. 
Resolution The paper photographs must be scanned at a sampling frequency of at least 300 pixels per inch or 12 pixels per millimeter. 
Paper photo requirements

Image requirements composition

ParticularsRequirements for scanning a photograph
Content– The image shouldn’t be older than 6 months 
– The image should be taken in full-face view directly facing the camera – Non-smiling expression with eyes open and unobstructed and directed at the camera
– All facial features must be visible
– No additional people, parts of the body below your shoulders, no extraneous objects, or other artifacts 
Head size The photo should be positioned in a way that the head height or facial region size (from the bottom of your chin to the top of the head, including hair) is between 1 and 1 ⅜ inches or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height.
Head orientation– You should directly face the camera
– The head shouldn’t be tilted up, down, to the right or left
– The head must be centered within the frame
Focus– The entire face must be in focus and not overly sharpened 
Color– Only colored image is acceptable (24 bits per pixel)
– Color should produce the natural skin tone
Brightness/ contrastBrightness and contrast should present your face accurately
LightingMake sure there are no shadows on your face or background
ResolutionFine facial features should be discernible 
Eyeglasses– You must not wear eyeglasses
– If you’re wearing for medical reasons, like you had an eye surgery lately, you need to provide a statement from your doctor
CompressionThe image must not be excessively compressed (the compression ratio should be less than or equal to 20:1).
Alteration– The photo must not be digitally stretched or altered to change your appearance.
– The aspect ratio of the image must be untouched when resizing (image stretching is not permitted).
Decorative items– Sunglasses or other items that obscure the face are not allowed.
– Hats or head coverings will only be allowed if worn for religious reasons and shouldn’t obscure any facial features
Image requirements composition

Photo do’s and don’ts

Do’s and Don’ts of US visa photo

US visa free photo tool

If you already have a photo, you can use the Department of State’s free photo tool to:

  • Select a digital photo stored on your computer/ mobile devices
  • Resize and rotate the image if necessary
  • Crop it so it is the right size of exactly 600 x 600 pixels

Please note: The US visa free photo tool can be used for cropping your photo only. A US Department of State employee will make the final decision on your photo after reviewing it.

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