US Visa Photo Specifications (2023)

Applying for a US visa can be a complex task and one that needs to be done with utmost care. One area where many people face difficulty is the specifications for the photograph that is to be attached with the visa application.

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions that arise in the mind of applicants regarding the visa photograph.

What Size Photo do I Need for a Visitor Visa?

Some embassies or consulates require you to upload a digital photograph, while others demand a paper-printed photograph. The size specifications for the digital and paper versions are different.

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For Digital Photographs

  • The image can be produced by capturing an image with a digital camera or by converting a paper photograph into digital form using a scanner.
  • The height and width pixel dimensions should be equal to each other. Minimum dimensions of the photo are 600 x 600 pixels, while the maximum dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels.
  • The photo should be in color and have 24 bits/pixel in sRGB color space.
  • The file format should be of JPEG type, meaning .jpg extension.
  • File size should be less than 240 KB.

Note: When you compress the photo to meet the size requirements, make sure the compression ratio is less than or equal to 20:1.

For Printed Photographs

  • The size of the paper photo should be at least 2 inches x 2 inches (51mm x 51mm).
  • The photo should be in color and black and white photos are not accepted.
  • Natural skin tones should be visible and there should be no posterization effects used.

Can I Smile with Teeth in The Photo?

Yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The US Department of State considers specific expressions as acceptable on visa applications, and big grins can lead to rejection. Natural smiles are allowed and do not lead to rejection of your visa application.

A natural smile is one that does not change your facial features or make it difficult to identify you. This means you shouldn’t give wide grins that make your lips thinner and raise the cheekbones.

Instead, just turn up the corners of your lips and feel free to part them to show some teeth.

Be careful not to open your mouth too wide while smiling, since this will alter the appearance of your jawline and lead to rejection.

What Should Be the Background?

The background needs to be a plain, light colored one for the photo.

There should be no distracting shadows on your face or in the background. Make sure there is optimal lighting, since photos that are too bright or too dull might be rejected.

Where Should I Take the Photo?

In case of printed photographs, you can take the photo at your home or get it clicked at a professional photo studio.

The latter would ensure that all the specifications are adhered to. This would increase the chances of your visa application being approved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the required size for a US visa photo?

The photo should measure 2 by 2 inches (51mm x 51mm). The head height or facial region (measured from the top of the head, including the hair, to the bottom of the chin) needs to be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (25 mm and 35 mm).

Can I wear glasses in my US visa photo?

As of 2023, glasses are not allowed in visa photos, except in rare circumstances when glasses cannot be removed for medical reasons.

Are selfies acceptable for the US visa photo?

No, selfies are not acceptable. The photo must be taken by another individual and should maintain a certain distance and perspective.

Can I smile in my US visa photo?

Natural, neutral facial expressions are required for US visa photos. While you aren’t required to maintain a serious, unsmiling expression, avoid wide grins or other expressions that might distort facial features.

Can I wear makeup or jewelry in my US visa photo?

You can wear makeup and jewelry, but they should not obscure or alter your facial features.

What is the requirement for the photo background?

The photo should be taken against a plain white or off-white background, without shadows or patterns.

What if I wear a head covering or hijab?

Religious and cultural head coverings are acceptable, but they should not obscure or cast shadows on the face. The full face must be visible.

What are the requirements for a baby’s or child’s US visa photo?

The requirements are the same as for adults. The child’s eyes must be open, and there should be no other person or object (like chair backs or toys) visible in the photo.

For more specific information, please refer to the official guidelines on the US Department of State website.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.