H1B visa photo guidelines
Given the highly competitive nature of the H1B visa process, applicants should ensure all aspects of their application are compliant with USCIS stipulations, including the H1B visa photo requirements. Issues or errors can result in delays or even rejection of your visa petition.
H1B visa photo checklist
When you apply for an H1B visa, you will be required to provide a photograph of yourself as part of your application. For the photograph to be accepted, you will need to ensure check that it adheres to the following:
- It is a colour photo.
- The photo must clearly show your full face, neck and shoulders.
- All of your facial features must be visible and unobstructed.
- The size of the photo is 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).
- The resolution of the photo must be 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per mm).
- Your head should be between 1 inch (22 mm) and 1 and 3/8 inches (35 mm), or between 50% and 69% of the photo’s total height.
- The photo must have been taken within the previous 6 months of making your application.
- The background must be white or off-white.
- You must be directly facing the camera to give a full-face view.
- The expression on your face must be neutral and both of your eyes must be open.
- You must be wearing clothes that you would usually and regularly wear. Do not wear a uniform in the photo, unless it is religious clothing that you would regularly wear.
- Hats and head coverings that hide the hair or hairline are not allowed, unless they are religious items that are worn daily.
- Your full face must be completely visible and not hidden in any way, be that directly or through being in shadow cast by the head covering or hat.
- You may not wear eyeglasses or sunglasses in the photo, unless they can’t be removed for medical reasons. If there are medical reasons, a supporting letter must be provided by a doctor or medical professional.
- Headphones, hands-free devices or any other such item must not be in the photo. Hearing devices or similar may only be worn in the photo if you normally wear them.
Photographs for your embassy or consulate interview
It may be necessary to provide a physical photo at your interview. Not all embassies or consulates require this, so it is best to confirm if this is a requirement before your interview.
If you need to print out the photo, you should use photo quality paper. Both matte and glossy photo paper are acceptable.
Digital requirements for your H1B visa photograph
Online application forms for nonimmigrant visas, such as DS-160, will require you to upload a digital format photo. There are further requirements for your photo in digital form. These are:
- The uploaded image must be square, that is, the height and width must be equal in size.
- The minimum dimensions for the image are 600 x 600 pixels. The maximum dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels.
- It must be:
- in colour,
- 24 bits per pixel, and
- in sRGB colour space (standard for digital cameras).
- The image must be a JPEG file.
- The size of the image file must not be more than 240 kB.
- Where it is necessary for the image file to be compressed to reduce it to an acceptable file size, the compression ratio must be no more than 20:1.
- The photo must not be digitally enhanced in any way, e.g. retouched, stretched or lightened.
- Should you wish to scan a physical photo that you already have in your possession, the resulting image must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51mm) and scanned at 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per mm).
Professional photograph or do-it-yourself?
It is recommended that you provide a professional photograph for your visa application, taken by a professional photographer or in a photo booth.
While you may take the photo yourself, or have a family member or friend take it, it must satisfy all H1B visa photo requirements.
Change of appearance in the last 6 months
The photo you provide must be no older than six months from when you make your application, as it must represent a recent likeness of you.
Where your appearance has changed during this period, you should provide a photo that reflects your current appearance. Some examples of how your appearance could have changed in the last six months, and the visa application process therefore requires an up-to-date photo, include:
- Facial surgery or trauma
- The addition of facial piercings or tattoos
- The removal of facial piercings or tattoos
- Significant weight loss
- Significant weight gain
- Gender transition
Should any of the above changes happen after you have submitted a photo as part of your visa application, the processing embassy or consulate may request a more recent photo. Such a request would likely result in the processing of your application being delayed.
Using your photograph for your H1B visa application
When you complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form (DS-160), you will be asked to upload your photo early on in the process, so it is worth taking the time before you begin to ensure you have your compliant photo ready.
The DS-160 application form will provide you with an option to test the suitability of your photo before you make the final upload.
Make sure you have access to a printer before you begin the online visa application. Once you have completed the online process, it will be necessary to print off a copy of the application form confirmation page. This document must be presented at your interview.
The next stage is to schedule an interview at your local US embassy or consulate. This can be done through the US Visa Appointment Service website.
In the run-up to your interview, you should compile originals of all the documents you will need to provide, including:
- Passport or travel document
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Appointment letter
- Application fee payment receipt, if applicable
- A photo, if required
- Evidence of your status in your home country
- Any previously issued US visas
- The receipt number of your approved H1B petition
- Evidence of any criminal history
- Evidence of any medical conditions
- Evidence of any previous immigration violations or where you have been denied entry into the US or deported
- Originals of any other supporting documents
When you attend the embassy or consulate, your biometric details will be taken (fingerprints, signature and photo) and you will be interviewed by an embassy or consulate officer to ensure that you are eligible to receive your H1B visa.
Once the interview is over, the officer will generally decide immediately whether to grant or decline your H1B visa application. It may be, however, that further information is required before a decision can be made.
Given the competitiveness of the H1B program, with many more petitions being made than there are visas available, it is important that your submission is completed correctly. This includes ensuring the photo you submit meets the requirements, to avoid any delays or complications in processing your application.
Contact us for advice and support with your US visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.