Green Card Photo Check – Essential Guide

Dreaming of becoming a permanent resident of the United States?

The annual Green Card Lottery is an opportunity for wannabe residents to make their American dream a reality. 

If you are presenting an application for the Diversity Immigration Visa (DV) program as it is officially called, you will want to put your best foot forward.

If you are successful (and have luck on your side, this is a lottery after all!), then you could be the lucky recipient of a Diversity Visa

There are around 50,000 visas up for grabs each year for applicants with US citizens as relatives or migrant workers. This document entitles you to legally live and work in the U.S on a permanent basis. It opens the door to countless job opportunities, allowing you to take advantage of the world’s largest economy. 

As part of the application, you need to submit a professional image that presents you in the best light. It is vital that the image ticks all the boxes as this opportunity only comes around once a year. Submitting an appropriate photo will maximise your chances of being accepted and making a positive impression on the approvals officer.

Read on for everything you need to know about the DV lottery photo requirements. We hope this will help you prepare a winning application!

Green Card Photo Requirements

Firstly, the image must be produced using a digital camera or by scanning a paper photograph. It must have been taken in the last 6 months to reflect how you currently look.

Here are some extensive guidelines on the image criteria. Read through them carefully before taking your photo. It is worth having several attempts to get it just right.

Do’s

  • Submit an image in frontal view that shows your face, neck, and shoulders.
  • Make sure that your expression is neutral and unsmiling (if you get a fit of giggles, you will need to retake it).
  • Ensure that the background is a solid, neutral, and light colour. Dark or patterned backgrounds are a no-go.
  • Remove glasses or other eyewear.

* Please note, headwear can be worn if it is for daily religious use and it does not obscure any facial features. All other headwear (whether tribal or military) is not allowed.

Here is some further guidance on the requirements for the orientation of the entrant:

  • Fully face the camera. Now is not the time to be camera shy!
  • The entrant should be oriented vertically in the image.
  • Your head should not be tilted.
  • Your head should be 50%-69% of the total height of the picture. If you are submitting a scanned image, the original photograph must have the required head orientation.
  • Your eyes should be located within 56% and 69% of the photograph’s height. This is measured from the bottom to eye height.

Dont’s

  • Do not alter, modify or enhance the image file.
  • Do not change the aspect ratio of the original image (i.e do not stretch or shrink it).
  • Do not wear a uniform (this doesn’t apply to religious clothing).
  • Do not wear a hat or head covering (unless it is a covering worn daily for religious reasons).
  • You should not be able to see anything below your shoulders. (Tip: Make sure to wear a top that covers your shoulders if you are worried that it will look like you are naked in the photo).
  • Nobody else or no object should appear in the picture with you.

What Are the Green Card Lottery Photo Dimensions?

The dimensions are: 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). 

It is important that the image is in focus and not pixelated so that all facial features can be seen clearly.

The minimum image resolution is 600 x 600 pixels (width x height) and the maximum is 1200 x 1200 pixels.

To apply for the Diversity Visa Program, you must upload your image as part of your entry in JPEG (.jpg) file format. The file size must not exceed 240 KB (kilobytes).

Green Card Photo – Where to Take My Picture

As there are a lot of requirements to meet and the lottery only comes round once a year, you want to make sure that your photo meets the strict criteria. 

If you aren’t a professional photographer (which, let’s be honest, few of us are), then getting it right can be time-consuming and runs the risk of not meeting all of the requisites. 

It is usually best to have your picture taken at a post office or pharmacy, or you can even use a professional visa photo service. 

Wondering where you can have it taken professionally?

Here are some places that typically offer in-person photography options:

  • Shipping centers like FedEx or the UPS Store.
  • Pharmacies and drugstores like CVS and Walgreens.
  • Stores like Walmart and Target (Note: these stores only print images that you’ve already taken).

Another option is getting your green card photo on the Internet. There are a number of sites that offer an online service to ensure that your image meets the regulations. 

All you need to do is take a picture on your webcam or using your smartphone and upload it to the website. The software then automatically reviews your photo (editing it when necessary) to ensure that it meets government standards.

How to Check Your Photo for the Green Card Application

With something as important as your future on the line, it is important to triple-check that your photo meets all the specifications. There are only 50,000 immigrant visas up for grabs and millions of applicants each year, you don’t want a blurry image to stand in the way of your dreams coming true! 

Before submitting your green card lottery form, you should review your photo carefully to ensure that it meets the guidelines.

If you want to be extra sure, as we mentioned above, there are professional services out there to help simplify the process. Make sure that any service you take advantage of guarantees that the final image is government compliant. This is essential as if not it is a waste of your hard-earned cash!

There are various sites offering photos that they guarantee are 100% compliant. Do everything in your power to check that all aspects of your application are correct.

DV Lottery Photo Tool

The Department of State has a free green card photo checker available to help you review and edit your image. 

You can select a file that is stored on your device and resize and rotate it if needed.

You can also crop it so that it meets the 600 x 600 image dimension requirements. You can then save it to your computer for printing.

Please note, in order to use the editor, you will need to use the Internet Explorer browser. You will also require Adobe Flash Player 10 or later.

The same tool can also be used if you are looking to edit your U.S passport application photo.

As this is an official government site, it is a reliable source if you need to manipulate your image.

Green Card Photo Example

On the official U.S Department of State website, you can see examples of both acceptable and unacceptable images submitted as part of visa applications. 

Acceptable photos have plain, uniform white backgrounds and are sharp and correctly sized. 

Unacceptable images may show the applicant looking away from the camera or wearing a hat. 

As mentioned above, since the end of 2016, eyeglasses are no longer allowed in visa photos. 

Scanned copies of driving license pictures or similar are not accepted. Likewise, submitting a low-quality image taken on your mobile phone or in a vending machine will see your application rejected. 

We hope you have found all the information helpful, good luck with your application! We will be rooting for you. 

Want to make a tourist visa application to visit the states? Find out how on our US ESTA page.