Green Card Photo Requirements

When applying for your permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card, you need to submit a photo. Government-issued identification cards have strict requirements for the photo you can use. If you take the picture yourself, it will likely be rejected. The U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply for a green card will have the final say on your photo’s acceptance or rejection. For best results, allow a professional photo service to take your photo. Learn more about the green card photo requirements and where you should go to have your photo taken.

woman takes selfie in front of american flag
A woman takes a selfie in front of the American flag. If your photo doesn’t meet the requirements, your green card application will be denied.

Your Green Card Photo Checklist

To save yourself the time and expense of a rejected green card photo, be sure to review the full list of requirements laid out by the U.S. Department of State. You can also use the free photo tool to resize and crop a digital photo to meet requirements. For your green card photo to be accepted, it must be:

  • A color photo
  • Less than six months old
  • Taken in front of a plain background, either white or off-white
  • A full-face photo with you facing the camera directly
  • Showing a neutral facial expression with both eyes open

The photo must display your current appearance. Be sure to dress as you normally do as far as clothing, hair, and make up style goes. You need your green card picture to look like you. You may smile slightly so long as your expression remains neutral and is not exaggerated.

What Is the Size of a Green Card Photo?

Your green card photo must be a specific size for it to be usable. Your photo needs to be 2 inches by 2 inches, printed on photo quality paper. In the photograph, your head must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches or 22 mm and 35 mm. This means between 50% and 69% of the picture’s height from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head.

What if You Wear Glasses?

While in the past you were allowed to wear glasses in a green card photo, that is no longer the case. If your glasses leave red marks on your face, you may want to remove them early so these marks do not appear in your photograph.

Eyeglasses are not allowed in your green card photo unless your doctor signed a statement saying that you must keep them on for a medical reason. Your glasses must not hide your eyes from view or produce shadows or glares.

What if You Wear a Hearing Aid?

If you normally wear a hearing aid, you will not need to remove it for your picture. You may wear your hearing aid or similar device in your green card photo.

What Should You Not Wear in Your Green Card Photo?

When you show up to take your green card photo, wear the kind of clothes you normally wear. Your full face must be visible, including your hairline. You cannot wear anything that may create shadows on your face. Do not wear:

  • A work or school uniform
  • A hat, headscarf, or hair wrap
  • Headbands or hair bows
  • Headphones or earbuds

Religious Clothing 

As an exception to this list, if you wear religious clothing daily, you must wear it in your green card photo. You may wear your:

  • Yarmulke 
  • Hijab
  • Turban
  • Headscarf 

While religious head coverings may be worn, your face must still be visible in your photo. Include a letter with your application explaining that you wear this covering daily for religious reasons.

Is a Green Card Photo the Same as a Passport Photo?

Requirements for a green card photo are very similar to a passport photo. The size and proportion requirements are the same. The main difference is that you may wear glasses in a U.S. passport photo.

Where to Have Your Green Card Photo Taken

Taking your own photo increases the odds of your application being rejected. It’s highly recommended that you use a professional photo service. You can have your green card photo taken at:

  • UPS 
  • FedEx
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Outside the US, there are generally businesses near US consulates or embassies that specialize in taking photos for US visa purposes. We suggest using one of those.

The price you pay to have your green card photo taken may depend on the retailer you choose and how many copies you need. The price typically ranges from $8 to $15. Walmart and Target can also print a digital photo if you have one that meets the green card picture requirements.

Your photo should only take a few minutes to print. After you have your green card photo and submit your application, it may take several weeks to process. You can check the status of your green card application online. 

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