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Basic visa photo requirements when coming to the U.S.

When applying for a visa to come to the United States, the photograph requirements are specific.

What the requirements are varies a bit depending on the type of visa you are pursuing, but they do have common elements that are the same. Whether a photo or digital image is needed depends on the type of visa. The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs strongly recommends having a professional visa photo service take the picture or pictures, but it is not required as long as the requirements are met.

Photos have to be in color, and should be no more than 6 months old so that the picture matches the applicant's current appearance. To make sure the photo is clear, applicants are also required to have the photo taken in front of a white or off-white background and face the camera directly, with both eyes open and a neutral facial expression.

Following these criteria is meant to make people easier to recognize. When getting dressed before the photo, the State Department indicates applicants should wear everyday clothing, avoiding uniforms and head coverings unless they are worn for religious reasons on a daily basis.

If someone wears glasses, he or she may wear them for the photo, but should make sure there is no glare off the lenses. Glasses that are dark or tinted, which hide the eyes, are not allowed. People can also wear hearing devices and similar aids if they regularly do so. Headphones, electronics and other items that are not needed aren't allowed, however.

There are also specific requirements for the photograph's size. The head has to be between 50 and 69 percent of the image's total height, which means between 1 and 1 ⅜ inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head for a normal passport-sized image. That may also be measured as between 22 and 35 millimeters. The head should be centered in the photo, and the picture should be 2 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

If a photo does not meet these and any other requirements, then it will likely be rejected and you will have to take a new one. Check for additional criteria that apply to specific visas. Once approved to come to the United States, whether planning to visit or stay, people may want to send money online to help out loved ones back home.

Useful Links:

Visa Photo TemplateExamples
Tips on taking your own photo

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