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Guideliness for US Passport Photo and Visa Photo Specifications

If you’re applying for a passport then you don’t want the application process to take any longer than normal. You have places to go and people to see. You need to make sure that your passport processing isn’t delayed because you weren’t aware of the specifications that the United States State Department has on passport photos and visas.

There was a time when US Immigration and the State Department were a little lax on their passport and visa specifications and applications. Those are definitely not the times we live in today. 9/11 showed the US that it was vulnerable and they have since tightened the leash on these things.

United States Passport Photo Requirements

  • Photos must be in color and on matte or glossy photo quality paper.
  • 2 x2 inches or 51mm x 51mm in size.
  • The head must be 1 inch to 1 3/8 inch in sized (this counts from the top of the head to bottom of the chin) within the 2 inch photo.
  • The photo must have been taken within the last 6 months of application.
  • The background must be plain white or off-white. No designs even if it matches the background color.
  • You must be directly facing the camera.
  • Your eyes must be open and no facial expression, i.e. no smiles or frowns.

United States Visa Photo Requirements

While much of the same requirements remain the same as that of passport photos, there are some differences:

There is an additional requirment to the 1 in to 1 3/8 in top of the head to the bottom of the chin requirement. For visas, that portion of the image must comprise between 50% and 69% of the entire photo.
US Visa specifications also go more deeply into the way of dress for photos. You should wear the type of clothes that reflect those that you would wear in everyday with the following conditions:

  • No uniforms unless it is religious clothing that is worn on a daily basis.
  • No hats or head covering that obscure the hair or hairline. Full face must be visible. If you wear a head covering for religious purposes than it cannot cast a shadow over your face.
  • No headphones or wires in the photo.
  • Hearing-aides and glasses (with non-tinted lenses) may be worn.
  • No glare or reflections within the lenses of your glasses are allowed in the photo.