USCIS Photos

USCIS Photos

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USCIS Photos - Size & Requirements

USCIS Photos Online
Size
Width: 2 in
Height: 2 in
Resolution
301 dpi
Image definition parameters
  • Head height: 1.29 in
  • Bottom of the Photo to the Eye Line: 1.18 in
Is it suitable for online submission?
yes
Is it printable?
yes
Background Color

How to take a photo?

Body-camera distance
1
Body-camera distance
Posture: Straight ahead
Posture: Straight ahead
2
Posture: Straight ahead
Even lighting on both sides of the face
Even lighting on both sides of the face
3
Even lighting on both sides of the face

If you are planning to apply for U.S. citizenship, this guide is for you. Knowing the citizenship application photo requirements will help you take the right photographs for any official documents so it is worth getting familiar with them before taking a photo and including it with your application. 

Applicants who live in the U.S. don’t need to send 2(two) paper photographs because photos are taken at their biometrics appointment. Applicants who reside outside the United States must provide 2 (two) identical photographs that are in color and were taken recently. 

USCIS passport photo guidelines

Let’s start off by saying that the USCIS photo is a U.S. passport photo. The size and requirements are the same so you can use your passport photo or take a new one for your U.S. citizenship application as well as for your passport. 

It is good to have a picture like this in the database as it is a passport-style biometric photo, which means that pictures are specially made to be an easy way to recognize and identify the document holder. Read on to find out how to take the right photo for the application for U.S. citizenship.

USCIS photo size and dimensions

The photo required by the USCIS is a square aspect ratio where width equals height where the size is 2 x 2 inches (51mmx51mm). The head must be between 1 inch to 1 3/8 inch (22 mm to 35 mm) or 50% to 69% of the total height of the image from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. You don't have to worry about the size when using the USCIS photo editor. PhotoAiD photo creator will resize the picture, and make sure that the photo has the correct dimensions.

Other specifications regarding the USCIS photos:

  • has to be in color and in focus,
  • taken against a plain light background,
  • shows the current appearance of the applicant,
  • no older than 6 months from the date of application,
  • without shadows or patterns.

Remember, the photo has to meet the technical requirements for U.S. passport photos.

Head position

The photo must be taken with a front facing view, directly facing the camera. In the picture the head should be clearly visible, including the hair, neck, and upper shoulders, and it is best to leave some space around the head. If you are not sure about the correct cropping, use the PhotoAiD cropper which ensures that the photo is properly resized according to official U.S. document photo requirements.

Background

The background for USCIS photos should be light and uniform with a white color. However, if you can’t arrange for the background to be perfect, you can use our PhotoAiD site or app which removes the background and replaces it with the one required for the document. 

Facial expression

A neutral expression is the only appropriate way of posing, which means you can only slightly smile. Don't smile widely or show your teeth. Your mouth must be closed and your eyes must be open. Your face must be fully visible, so it is best to brush your hair back so that both sides of your face are easily seen. Keep your face straight, don't tilt it at all, as photos even having a slight profile are rejected immediately.

Makeup

When it comes to your face, your makeup should reflect your everyday look. Do not put a lot on your face before taking the USCIS photo because it will look unnatural and glossy. It should not mask your individual facial features such as moles, wrinkles, birthmarks, scars, etc. as well as tattoos. So any interference such as retouching or trying to change your features will cause the photo to be rejected. Use PhotoAiD photo editor instead. It will edit your picture without breaking the official rules and you will have a 100% guarantee of the photo being accepted.

Glasses 

You can't wear glasses in a passport photo. Sunglasses and tinted glasses are definitely not allowed. In exceptional circumstances you may wear glasses for medical purposes. This applies, for example, where the glasses cannot be removed for medical reasons, because the applicant has recently had eye surgery and the glasses are essential in order to protect the eyes. However, you must provide an appropriate statement from your doctor.

Clothing

There is no special dress code for USCIS photos. Only uniforms are forbidden and you cannot be wearing a uniform or military clothing in the photo. It is best to wear your everyday neat clothes, in which you will look elegant and professional. It is better to not choose eccentric styles and white shirts that may blend in with the background. 

Headwear

Hats, caps, berets, etc. are not allowed in photos for documents such as USCIS passport photos. The only exceptions are for medical or religious reasons, only then is headwear allowed in your passport photo as long as it does not cover your face. However, this will need to be confirmed with a statement from a leader in your religious community or a doctor. However, burqas or other headscarves which cover your face are not allowed. In this case the headscarf must be removed so that the oval of the face, chin and forehead are visible.

Lighting 

The light must illuminate both sides of the face. There must be no unwanted shadows in the photo, either on the face, neck or in the background. Make sure that the photo is not underexposed or overexposed and there must be a stark contrast between the background and the object.

Quality 

USCIS passport photos must be in color, in contrast and focused. They can't be blurry, grainy or pixelated. When submitting printed photos, you must ensure that they are not scratched, damaged and that there are no visible pixels after printing. Remember to print the pictures on matte or glossy high-quality photo paper. We recommend printing them at a photo lab as home printers often have a different quality, which may result in your photo being rejected.

USCIS online photo tool

PhotoAiD is a perfect solution while taking the right photos for the USCIS application. The application works fast and gives you a 100% guarantee with any of the U.S. institutions that require a photo. All you have to do is upload a picture that you have just taken and leave the rest to us.

PhotoAiD, the online photo editor, or app, edits and resizes your image as well as removes an unsuitable background and changes it into the required one, so for USCIS it will change it into one with a white, uniform color.

PhotoAiD also verifies if the picture meets all the U.S. citizenship photo requirements. If you want to be sure that the photo that you have attached to your application form is correct, use the USCIS online photo creator.

You can download our PhotoAiD editor from the AppStore or GooglePlay store depending on the phone you use, iPhone or a smartphone with Android. It really is that simple!

Common mistakes while taking photos for the USCIS

Taking photos for documents is not a piece of cake but we are here to help you with the process. While you may have already met the requirements regarding USCIS photos and you know how to use our PhotoAiD Tool, it is time to see the most commonly made mistakes to know what you should avoid:

  • An overexposed or underexposed photo.
  • Submitting an old photograph - the photo can’t be older than 6 months.
  • Not showing your true appearance - you have changed a lot since the photo was taken or you are wearing too much makeup.
  • Bad quality − blurry, grainy or pixelated images.
  • Wrong head position - your head in the frame is not between 1 and 1 3/8 inch and/or is tilted to the side.
  • Uploading selfies – selfies are not allowed as they distort the natural proportions of the face and don’t really fit official documents.
  • Looking sideways.
  • Smiling - smiling in photos is nice but not appropriate for your passport or USCIS application photos, the face must be neutral and you must not show your teeth.
  • Headwear covering the face − the face must be perfectly visible and your hair or headwear must not cover any part of it.

Last update: 9/21/22

Frequently Asked Questions

❓ What is the correct size for a USCIS photo?

The required size for a USCIS photo is the same as it is for a U.S. passport, so the size is 2 x 2 inches (51mmx51mm). The area with your head must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inch (22 mm to 35 mm) or 50% to 69% of the total height of the image from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.

❓ Are the U.S. passport photo requirements the same as for the USCIS?

Regarding photos for USCIS application, yes, you can use a U.S. passport photo and follow the same requirements in order to take the right photograph.

❓ Can I take a USCIS photo with my phone?

The USCIS photos are biometric U.S. passport photos so as long as you meet the U.S. passport photo requirements you know what the color of the background has to be, head position, facial expression, as well as the quality, etc. Then, you can start taking photos and we advise you to use our photo editor which will edit, resize and verify that your picture is100% correct, and the process is much quicker than by using other means.

If you are from outside of the U.S. you will need to attach a passport size photograph but if you live as a U.S. citizen in America, you don't have to as the photo will be taken at your biometric appointment.

It is a requirement that you do not wear anything that is white, in order to not blend in with the background. Extravagant outfits will also not suit official documents. The best clothing to wear is something casual and that you like, and are comfortable in, but nothing eccentric.

Smiling gently is generally allowed but you must not laugh broadly and show your teeth. Your face must be as natural as possible and your mouth must be closed.

Yes, you can but not makeup that is heavy or glossy. The makeup should reflect your everyday look and not mask your individual facial features such as moles, wrinkles, birthmarks, scars, tattoos, etc.

The required documents are: a photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as a Green Card), a check or money order for the application fee and the biometric services fee. You must write your Alien Registration Number (A-Number) on the back of the check or money order and include two identical color copies of the USCIS photo with your name and A-Number written lightly in pencil on the back of the photo (only if you reside outside of the U.S.).

Currently you don't need to attach anything and the photos will be taken at your biometrics appointment.

About the document

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) administers the country's naturalization and immigration system. It is a successor to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which was dissolved by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and replaced by three components within the DHS: USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

USCIS performs many of the duties of the former INS, namely processing and adjudicating various immigration matters, including applications for work visas, asylum, and citizenship. Additionally, the agency is officially tasked with safeguarding national security, eliminating immigration case backlogs, and improving efficiency. 

Who is eligible for U.S. citizenship?

People who were born in the United States, or if they were born abroad to Americans, are U.S. citizens. It is possible to become a U.S. citizen by birth, through naturalization or as a minor following the naturalization of one or both parents. Depending on the situation, there are different ways to obtain U.S. citizenship. 

There are two main ways:

Acquisition − citizenship is obtained through parents with U.S. citizenship, either at birth or after birth, before the age of 18.

Naturalization − this is the way that a person who was not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. It is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a:

  • lawful permanent resident (LPR) after meeting the requirements,
  • a person married to a U.S. citizen,
  • a person who serves/served in the U.S. military,
  • child of a U.S. citizen.

In general you may qualify for naturalization if you are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 5 (five) years or 3 (three) years if you are married to a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements.

How to apply for USCIS?

You can apply for U.S. citizenship either in person or by using the mail service. The application and documents should be printed and put in one envelope. 

Application to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization requires filing the N-400 form either online or in-person. All applicants must also send the following three items along with their N-400 form:

  • A photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as a Green Card).
  • A check or money order for the application fee and the biometric services fee. You must write your Alien Registration Number (A-Number) on the back of the check or money order.
  • Two identical color copies of the USCIS photo with your name and A-Number written lightly in pencil on the back of the photo (only if you reside outside of the U.S.).

Naturalization processing time and fees

The naturalization process takes 14 (fourteen) to 20 (twenty) months. The process consists of 5 stages including: preparation, application, biometric meeting, interview and final activities. It ends with the granting of a naturalization certificate. 

The naturalization fee, in total, is $725. This amount includes filing the naturalization application for $640 and the fee for the biometric services, which is $85. You are advised to send the fee of $725 along with your USCIS application. It is payable with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank payable to the Department of Homeland Security or it is possible to pay with a credit card using the authorization for credit card transaction.

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