H1B Visa Photo Requirements

By Julia

March 15, 2023

H1B Visa Photo Requirements

The H-1B is a visa that permits U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The duration of stay is three years and can be extended to six years. To apply, visa applicants must submit an application together with their face photos.

If the photo doesn’t meet the requirements, the application may not be approved. That’s why it is essential to know which photo you should attach to your application.

How to get a picture for a nonimmigrant visa?

You can obtain a picture for an H1-B visa in two ways – by taking a digital photo using modern devices and scanning your paper photo.

To get a digital photo, you can attend a photography studio or take it by yourself using a digital camera on your device – a smartphone or tablet.

If you go for scanning, note that printed photos must be scanned at a sampling frequency of at least 300 pixels per inch. The size of the paper photograph you use has to be 2 inches x 2 inches (51 mm x 51 mm) square or more.

Size and format requirements

Whatever way a photo was taken, it must meet the size photo requirements. The photo must be even in height and width. The minimum dimensions are 600 x 600 pixels, while the maximum acceptable dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels. Incorrect size may prevent you from uploading the photo in the application form and even cause refusal.

The photo must be in JPEG format (.jpg extension). The size of the file must be equal or less than 240 kB (kilobytes). If your visa photo file is too big, you will need to convert it to adjust the size stipulated by H1-B visa requirements. The compression ratio should be 20:1 or less.

Head orientation and facial expression

The head from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin must occupy between 50% and 69% of the height of the picture. The eyes must be at a level between 56% and 69% of the height of the picture.

The photo must show not only your full head but also your neck and shoulders. Your face must head directly to the camera, be centered and straight. No tilting is allowed, whether it’s up, down, to the side, or toward the shoulders.

An H1-B visa requires you to have a neutral facial expression. You cannot smile, grin, raise eyebrows, etc. Your eyes must be open and look into the camera.

Color and lighting

It is obligatory that the photo for the H1-B visa application is in color: black&white options are not accepted. There should be 24 bits per pixel in sRGB color space.

The lighting must clearly show your features and spread evenly. Your face must be in focus but not overly sharpened. There shouldn’t be any shadows on the applicant or background. It’s important not to make the picture over- or under-exposed.

Contrast, brightness, and saturation must also present you as you are in real time. Visa photos cannot be too gray or too strong in color. The picture must have a color balance that reproduces natural skin tones.

The photo must be of good quality and cannot contain pixels or dot patterns. You cannot retouch a picture for a visa application – you can only crop it to match the required dimensions, but no image stretching is allowed.

Background and accessories

The H1-B photo must have a white or off-white background. It also should be plain and doesn’t contain any distracting objects, additional people, parts of the body below the applicant’s shoulders, etc. Only the applicant must be present in the picture.

It is highly recommended to avoid any kind of accessories. Now, not only sunglasses, tinted glasses, and glasses with big frames are forbidden, but all kinds of eyeglasses must be removed for the visa photo.

Hats or head coverings can be present only for religious reasons. Religious clothing should not cover facial features. Headphones and hands-free devices also cannot be used. Hearing devices may only be worn in the photo for the H1-B visa application if you wear them on an everyday basis.

Significant change in appearance

An H1-B visa application process requires you to present a new photo of yourself – it cannot be older than six months from the moment of submitting your application.

As the passport is valid for a long time, at the present moment, you may not look like your passport picture because of a normal aging process. Your photo for visa application must show how you look now.

If after applying your appearance changes, you must immediately contact the embassy and send a new photo.

The appearance changes may include:

  • Gender transition
  • Significant weight loss/gain
  • The addition/removal of facial piercings or tattoos
  • Undergone significant facial surgery
  • Trauma

Photos of toddlers and babies

H-1B visa holders can bring their children under 21 to the United States under the H-4 visa category as dependents.

To make a photo of a baby or toddler for a visa, you should lay it down on a plain white sheet. This way, the baby will be supported and have an appropriate background.

The other option is to put the baby in the car seat covered with a plain white sheet. Ensure there is no shadow on a baby’s face.

Even though there is relaxation in regard to the baby’s facial expression, a baby or toddler still should be alone in the picture – a picture with a baby being held by a family member won’t be accepted.

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Julia's expertise lies in providing professional content, simplifying the visa application process for travelers worldwide. Her dedication to delivering valuable and accurate information, combined with her love for exploring new cultures, inspires others to discover new horizons and embark on their own adventures.