US Embassy: No need to ‘say cheese’ for US visa pics

Most Filipinos are known to love having their photos taken and with a full smile at that.

However, the United States Embassy in Manila said for those who are applying for a US visa, it would be better to have a neutral expression on their photos.

In an entry on its blog site, the embassy said: “It seems unnatural to pose for a photo in the Philippines and not smile.”

“However, if you are applying for a visa to the United States we ask that you present a full face photo with a ‘neutral facial expression,'” the embassy said.

The embassy said “neutral” means:
• eyes open,
• mouth closed, and
• staring straight ahead.

The embassy also advised that eyeglasses be removed and “long hair pulled back so that both ears are visible.”

For applicants whose photos were deemed unacceptable, the embassy said there are “Kodak photo booths inside the embassy where you can get photos retaken but this can add to the waiting time for your visa interview.”

“Recently several applicants complained that they had to wait in long lines at the Kodak photo booth because many people (including them) had brought unusable photos,” it noted.

The embassy said it was highly possible that a person’s “visa application photo is probably not going to be in your top ten profile pictures on Facebook.”

However, it advised that “following the directions for proper photo submission will make your visa interview process go a lot faster.”
Photo requirements

The embassy also cited the following requirements:

one 2? x 2? standard photo;

in color;

must be taken within the last six months to reflect the applicant’s current appearance;

must be taken in front of a plain white or off-white background;

must be taken in full-face view directly facing the camera;

applicant must have a neutral facial expression and both eyes open;

must be taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis;

uniforms should not be worn, except religious clothing that is worn daily;

applicants must not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose (full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face);

headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo;

dark glasses or glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable.

Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.

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