Visa Photos and Fingerprinting for U.S. Visa Applicants

When you’re applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States, there are a couple of things you need to know about photos and fingerprinting. Let’s break it down in simple terms.


When you go for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, they’ll take your fingerprints. It’s a quick and easy process, usually done digitally.

However, some people don’t need to get fingerprinted, like those traveling on government business or if you’re really young (under 14) or a bit older (over 79).

Photo Requirements

Your visa application photo is important, and there are some rules to follow:

  • Recent Photo: Your photo must have been taken within the last six months. If you’re renewing a visa, it should be a new picture, not the same one as before.
  • Head Size: The photo should show your whole head, from the top of your hair to the bottom of your chin. It should measure between 1-1-3/8 inches (25 to 35mm) or fill between 50%-70% of the photo.
  • Photo Dimensions: It must be a square, 5cm x 5cm, with a minimum of 600 pixels x 600 pixels and a maximum of 1200 pixels x 1200 pixels.
  • Head Orientation: Look straight at the camera, with your face fully visible and eyes open.
  • Background: Sit against a plain white or off-white background. No clutter!
  • Clothing: Wear your everyday clothes; no uniforms unless it’s daily religious clothing. No hats unless it’s for religious reasons, and they shouldn’t cover your face.
  • Accessories: No headphones, hats, or similar items. Glasses are okay, but not if they have a strong tint.
  • Eyeglasses: As of November 1, 2016, no eyeglasses are allowed.
  • More Info: For detailed information, you can check the Department of State’s website.

If you have more questions about visa photos, the Department of State has a FAQ page with answers to common queries:

  1. How many photos do you need?
  2. What paper should you print your photos on?
  3. Do photos have to be in color?
  4. How recent should they be?
  5. What size should they be?
  6. Can you wear eyeglasses or hats?
  7. Can parents appear in a child’s photo?
  8. Is it okay if a child’s eyes are closed in the photo?
  9. How to take a photo of a baby?
  10. Can you use a digital camera?
  11. Can you fix the red-eye in the photo?
  12. Are photos copied from licenses acceptable?
  13. Are snapshots or mobile photos okay?

Remember, getting your visa photo right is crucial. Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to a successful U.S. visa application.

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