Complete Guide to Green Card Photos for USCIS

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • The green card photo must be in color and taken within the last six months.
  • It should have a white or off-white background, with your full head centered in the frame.
  • The photo must show a neutral expression, with eyes looking into the camera.
  • The size should be 2 inches x 2 inches, printed on glossy or matte photo paper.

Applying for a green card is a long and complicated process. You need to follow all the guidelines set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Among many things, one of the essential aspects of a green card application is submitting a valid photo of the applicant.

When you’re applying for your green card, there are many requirements set by the USCIS for the green card photo. It’s important to follow all such requirements when taking your green card photo because your application can be rejected if the picture doesn’t meet any of those guidelines. To help you take a good picture and avoid having your application denied, we have listed all the photo requirements for green card applicants.

Green Card Photo Requirements Explained

  1. The photo must be taken in color. Black and white photos are not accepted.
  2. The photo must be taken within the last six months.
  3. The background of the photo must be white or off-white.
  4. The photo should contain your full head, which means it should include your face from the top of your hair to the bottom of your chin. Also, your head should be at the center of the frame in the picture.
  5. The size of the green card photo should be 2 inches x 2 inches (51 mm x 51 mm).
  6. You should be facing straight ahead, and your eyes should be looking into the camera.
  7. Your face should have a neutral expression. For example, a slight smile may be acceptable, but it isn’t recommended, so keep your expression completely neutral.
  8. In the picture, the height of your head (distance from the top of hair to bottom of chin) should measure 1 inch – 1 ⅜ inch (or 25mm to 35mm).
  9. In the picture, your eyes should be at the height of 1 ⅛ inch – 1 ⅜ inch (or 28 to 35 mm) from the bottom of the picture frame.
  10.  You cannot wear any uniforms in the photo. However, any religious clothing that is worn daily or regularly is permitted.
  11. You cannot wear hats or any garment that covers your head. However, head coverings that are a part of religious clothing worn daily or regularly are permitted.
  12. You cannot wear any eyeglasses in the picture. Even if you wear prescription glasses, it’s recommended that you take them off during the picture. However, you can keep the eyeglasses on if you must wear them for medical reasons. For example, the applicant has recently undergone ocular surgery and needs glasses for eye protection. In such cases, you must also produce a medical statement regarding your condition.
  13. You cannot wear headphones, any wireless wearable device, or other electronic gadgets.

It’s also important to note that your green card photo must be printed on glossy or matte photo paper.

These are the photo requirements for a standard green card application. But there are also some additional requirements that are only applicable in special cases based on the type of visa application which we’ll explain below.

Application for Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program

The Diversity Program is a lottery system that randomly selects 55,000 applicants every year to receive a green card. The application process for this program requires that you send your photo digitally. So here are the requirements for submitting digital pictures:

  • The file format should be in JPEG.
  • The file size should not exceed 240 KB. If you’re compressing the image to meet the file size requirements, then the compression ratio should not be more than 20:1.
  • The size of the photo should be 2 inches x 2 inches.
  • The image resolution should be between 600×600 pixels to 1200×1200 pixels (width x height). The aspect ratio must always be square, i.e., the height should be equal to the width.
  • If you’re scanning an existing photo, the resolution must be 300 pixels per inch.

Application for Non-Immigrant Visa

If you’re applying for a non-immigrant visa through form DS-160 or DS-1648, you will have to submit an online application. In this case, the photo must be sent digitally. Therefore, the same digital photo requirements listed above for the Diversity Visa program also apply to non-immigrant visa applications.

Additional Tips for Green Card Photo

Other than the requirements listed above, here are some additional tips that can help you take an appropriate photo for your green card application.

  1. To resize, rotate, or crop a digital image for a green card application, you can use the Department of State’s photo tool.
  2. Even though you can take your green card photo yourself, It’s better to go with a professional photo service.
  3. Apart from your photo, you may also be required to submit photos of your family members, such as your spouse and children. If you have an infant or toddler and need to take their picture, either lay them on their back and take a picture from above or fasten to a baby car seat and then click the picture. In both cases, lay a white or off-white cloth/sheet behind them.
  4. Although your green card photo can be up to six months old, you must also make sure that the photo matches your present appearance. If your facial appearance has changed compared to the photo, you will be asked to provide a new picture. Change in appearance can be due to:
  1. Facial or cosmetic surgery
  2. Drastic weight gain or loss
  3. Gender transition
  4. Addition or removal of tattoos or piercings on the face
  5. Change in appearance due to natural aging (in the case of teens and young children).

Minor changes like the growth of facial hair, change in hairstyle or color is acceptable.

Where to Get a Green Card Photo

If you’re taking the photo yourself, just make sure you follow all the requirements and guidelines explained above. However, even the U.S. government recommends that applicants take a photo from a professional visa photo service. There are many visa photo services you can find online, so you can quickly get in touch with a service near you and schedule a session to have the photo taken.

Some other outlets for green card photos include:

  • Post offices
  • Drugstores (CVS and Walgreens)
  • Delivery services such as UPS or FedEx

If you have already taken a photo, you can also get them printed at Walmart or Target.

Green Card Photo FAQ

How many photos should I submit with my visa application?

If you’re applying in the United States, you must submit a total of eight green card photos.

If you’re applying from outside of the United States, you must bring two photos during your green card interview.

If you’re applying online, upload your image where required in the application form.

What type of paper should I print my photos on?

You should print your green card photo on glossy or matte photo paper.

Do the photos have to be in color?

Yes, it is mandatory for your green card photo to be in color.

 What size must my green card photo be?

Your green card photo should be 2 inches x 2 inches.

Can I wear sunglasses or tinted glasses in the photo?

No, you cannot wear sunglasses, tinted glasses, or any kind of eyeglasses in your green card photo. Eyeglasses are only permitted if they are necessary for medical reasons.

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As you now know, there are many requirements that must be followed when taking your green card photo. The acceptance or rejection of your photo will be at the discretion of the USCIS. Some minor shortcomings may be ignored and accepted, but from your end, it’s necessary that you strictly adhere to all these requirements.

If possible, approach a visa photo service to ensure your photo doesn’t get rejected. But if you decide to take the photo yourself, be extremely careful and make sure your photo follows all the guidelines we have explained in this post.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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