Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting visa photos that fit the US visa photo requirements

One problem that you will probably come across quite quickly when you begin the process of applying for a K1 Fiance Visa is obtaining visa photos that fit the US visa photo requirements.  This was certainly the case for me, being British, as the US visa photo size and shape is completely different to the official photos that are used in Britain for official documents such as passports, driving licenses, etc.  This means that getting a photo for US visa from an automatic photo booth is not an option as the photos produced will not meet the visa photo specifications required for the USCIS documents.

You therefore have two options.  Either you pay someone to take and edit the photos for you so that they fit all the US visa photo specifications, or you do the photos yourself.  I chose the latter option, to do the photos myself, but whichever option you go for, I would strongly recommend that you make sure that have the finished photo(s) in a digital format – this means that you can use them again and again.  

You can also have extra back up copies on hand easily, if they are in digital format, because you can save them online, on a laptop, email them to yourself, and/or put them on a memory stick, as well as having your photos printed out in paper formats.  Even after I arrived in the US, I still needed photos for things such as the green card application and other official documents.

As I said, I chose to do the photo myself.  It is not that difficult, provided you follow all the instructions and make sure that you meet all the US visa photo requirements.  I will confess that I do have an advantage over many people in that I enjoy digital photography and have experience of basic photo editing, but the process really is not really too taxing.  I will take you through what I did.

First of all, visited the USCIS website and made sure that I had all the up to date information about the visa photo requirements.  Then I made sure that I had arranged the physical space so that the photo for visa would meet the requirements – for example, in the instructions I was given, it said that the background had to be white, or off white, and well lit, so that shadows were minimized (the best way to tackle shadows is to have two sources of light, one on either side of the person who’s picture is being taken).  It is worth spending time setting up the area where your photo will be taken, as you don’t want to end up having to do it all again.  It is also best to read through all the rules in advance for similar reasons.  As well as being a pain, having your photo rejected may slow the whole K1 Fiance visa process.

I got a friend to take the visa photos.  Again, there were rules for how I had to sit and comport myself, although most of them were fairly obvious.  My friend took half a dozen photos and I picked the best photo for US visa from them.

The photo had to fit the visa photo size requirements, which meant for me that I had to crop it to make it into a 2 inch by 2 inch square (51mm by 51mm).  I used Adobe Photoshop to do it, but there are plenty of free cropping tools available online nowadays, including online cropping tools at US Consular websites.  I think you can also scan an existing photo, or submit your photo in a digital format nowadays, but you would have to check up on the rules regarding that, as I don’t know for sure.  I printed my photos out on photo paper, cut them out, and submitted them in paper form.


  1. yes, take note of this the forms!

  2. I had my visa photo done professionally, just to be sure that I was following all the requirements. Here are some other tips to remember regarding the photo requirements: Your facial expression must be neutral and with both of your eyes open; they must have been taken within the 6 months prior to your application; and you must wear appropriate clothes that you were on a regular basis. I was told at the photography service that I had to wear a collared top, although I’m aware that this rule doesn’t stand for all countries.

  3. I went to a local Asda (walmart) store in the UK and used one of those self-service photo booths. Before doing so I had called up customer services to check if the machine supplied legally compliant (USA visas)photos and they did :) It cost around £6 for four photos which is kinda alot but in the grand scheme is not to bad.

  4. Near US Embassy in Indonesia, there are many photo studios can give you right size photo. Its recomended just go there, then the photo studio will take care of it.

    I wrote on my blog how to apply for a K-1 fiance visa step by step.


    Make your OWN passport photos at home on your own computer/printer--SAVES a lot of money!