DOS to Prohibit Eyeglasses in Visa Photographs

Under a new policy that goes into effect on November 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will no longer accept photographs of visa and passport applicants wearing eyeglasses. The reason for the policy change is to ensure the photographs can be easily scanned and identified using facial recognition technology.

Medical Necessity Exception

The only exception to the prohibition on eyeglasses is for applicants with a medical necessity, such as recent eye surgery, that is documented in a statement signed by a doctor. When allowed for medical reasons, the eyeglasses must not cover or shadow the eyes or have any glare.

Photograph Requirements for Visa Applicants

Other requirements for the visa photograph remain unchanged. The websites of local U.S. embassies or consulates provide specific details on these requirements, as does the DOS WebSite. Generally, the photo should be in color, taken within the last six months, be 2 inches x 2 inches (5cm x 5cm) in size, and be taken on a light background. The applicant should be facing forward, with the his/her head straight and centered, and with a neutral facial expression. The head should take up between one-half to two-thirds of the photograph.

Religious Head Coverings Still Allowed

The new eyeglasses policy does not affect the DOS policy on religious head coverings. A head covering is allowed in a visa photograph if removing it would conflict with local or religious custom, as long as the applicant’s entire face is visible.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.