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What is the required passport picture for DV Lottery?

The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery is an annual visa program that allows people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for a Green Card. Each year, 50,000 permanent resident visas are available through the lottery. To enter the lottery, applicants must meet simple but strict eligibility requirements, one of which relates to submitting the proper passport style photograph.

DV Lottery Eligibility Overview

There are a few key requirements to be eligible for the diversity visa lottery:

  • You must be a native of a qualifying country – countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the past 5 years generally qualify.
  • You must have a high school education or equivalent work experience.
  • You cannot have any disqualifying factors like certain criminal convictions.
  • You must submit the online entry form and required photograph during the registration period.

Failing to meet any one of these requirements, including the photograph specifications, will lead to a disqualification. So it is critical to understand the rules and submit a properly formatted passport photo.

Passport Photo Requirements

The diversity visa lottery has very specific requirements when it comes to the submission photograph:

  • The photo must have been taken within the last 6 months.
  • The photo must be in color.
  • The photo must have a white background.
  • The photo must show a full frontal view of the face.
  • The applicant’s head must be bare (no hats or head coverings).
  • The applicant must be facing the camera directly.
  • The applicant must have a neutral facial expression.
  • The applicant’s eyes must be open and visible.
  • No glasses or other eyewear should be worn in the photo.
  • Dimensions of the photo must be 600 pixels by 600 pixels.
  • The photo must be in JPEG file format.
  • The maximum file size is 240 kB.

In essence, the requirements are similar to a passport photography – a simple headshot with a light background. Photos that do not match the above criteria will lead to an incomplete entry and make you ineligible for that year’s visa lottery.

Example of Acceptable DV Lottery Photo

Here is an example of a photograph that meets all the requirements:

As you can see, this is a recent color photo with a plain white background. The person is facing forward and has a neutral facial expression. There are no glasses, hats, or other items obstructing the face. It is the proper size at 600×600 pixels and meets the formatting specifications. This would be considered an acceptable diversity visa photo.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Some common mistakes that can get your DV lottery entry disqualified include:

  • Submitting an old photo that is more than 6 months old.
  • Using a non-white background like an office wall or colored curtain.
  • Wearing a hat, scarf, glasses, or other items that cover part of the face.
  • Facing sideways or looking away from the camera.
  • Having a non-neutral facial expression like smiling or frowning.
  • Heavy shadows or improper lighting that obscure the face.
  • Incorrect photo dimensions that are too small or too large.
  • Using an unsupported file format like PNG, TIFF, or BMP.

Review the requirements carefully and avoid these common photograph mistakes. Use a passport photo service if needed to ensure you have the proper DV lottery photograph.

Free Online Tools to Create a Proper Photo

If you need help creating a photo that complies with all the diversity visa photo standards, there are some free online tools you can use:

Tool Description
PassportPhoto.Online Lets you upload a photo and crop/edit it to passport specs. Simple to use.
Phototizers More advanced editing features like background changer. Creates compliant photo.
PassportPhotoCreator Basic editor to crop and resize images. Also handy photo comparison tool.
Fotor Full featured online photo editor. Can tweak images to required size and specs.

Using one of these free tools can help you properly format your photo if you are having trouble taking one that complies with all the requirements. Just upload any digital headshot and use the guides to adjust the image as needed.

Getting a Professional Passport Photo

For the best results, you may want to get a professional passport photo taken for your diversity visa lottery entry. There are many places you can get affordable passport photos including:

  • Post offices – Many USPS locations offer passport photo services.
  • Pharmacies – Major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid take passport photos.
  • Shipping stores – The UPS Store, FedEx Office, and other chains take passport photos.
  • Big box retailers – Some Target, Walmart, and grocery stores have photo studios.
  • Local photographers – Search for passport photo studios near you.

Prices vary but are generally $5 to $15 for a set of passport photos. Bring cash or a credit/debit card. You typically do not need an appointment for standard passport photos.

The advantage of using a professional service is that they will ensure the photo meets all size, formatting, and print quality requirements. This gives you the best chance for a properly submitted DV lottery entry.

Top 5 Tips for Submitting Photo

Here are the top 5 tips to keep in mind when submitting your digital photo for the diversity visa lottery:

  1. Use a digital camera or smartphone camera that takes high resolution photos.
  2. Make sure the photo was taken within the last 6 months.
  3. Double check that the image is in focus and the facial features are clearly visible.
  4. Review photo requirements and look for any errors like incorrect background, glasses, hat, etc.
  5. Use passport photo editing software to correctly crop and resize if needed.

Following these simple tips will help ensure you have a properly formatted diversity lottery photo to submit with your entry. Taking the time to get the photo right gives you the best shot at being selected.

What is the Best File Format for DV Lottery Photo?

The DV lottery rules state that the submitted digital photograph must be in JPEG file format. JPEG (.jpg) is a common standard for image compression and storage.

Here are some key advantages of using JPEG for your diversity visa photo:

  • Widely supported – JPEG is compatible with all computers, browsers, and smartphones.
  • Compact file size – JPEG uses compression to create small file sizes suited for uploading.
  • Lossy compression – JPEG compression removes non-essential visual data to shrink the file.
  • Web ready – JPEG’s small size and universality makes it perfect for web use.
  • Easy to modify – Many apps can edit and resave JPEGs with no loss of quality.

For these reasons, JPEG is by far the best format for submitting your digital photo for the diversity visa lottery. Using the universally supported JPEG instead of PNG, TIFF or other formats ensures your entry photo will be viewable by the processing system.

Avoid Using PNG, TIFF for DV Lottery Photos

Although PNG and TIFF files are also common image formats, they have disadvantages that make them poor choices for DV lottery entry photos:

  • Larger file sizes – PNG and TIFF files are typically much larger than compressed JPEGs.
  • Lossless compression – PNG and TIFF retain more visual data, leading to the larger sizes.
  • Not universally supported – Some older browsers and apps may not fully support PNG or TIFF.
  • More difficult editing – Resaving PNG and TIFF can degrade image quality.

Due to the larger files and compatibility concerns, you should not use PNG or TIFF for your visa lottery photograph. Stick exclusively to JPEG to ensure wide device support and easier uploading.

Ideal Photo Dimensions and Specs

For the DV lottery entry photograph, your digital photo must meet these technical specs:

  • Dimensions – 600 pixels x 600 pixels (width x height)
  • Resolution – At least 300 dpi (dots per inch)
  • File Size – Maximum 240 kB (kilobytes)
  • Color mode – RGB color (not black & white or grayscale)

A 600×600 pixel image with standard 72 dpi resolution would have dimensions of 2.375 x 2.375 inches. This is large enough to capture the head and shoulders when cropped properly.

The high 300 dpi resolution provides excellent detail for printing and viewing the image. At this resolution, the maximum 240 kB file size provides ample space for rich color in the JPEG format.

Submitting your photo at the exact dimensions and within the specified file size prevents any issues with entry processing while retaining high image quality.

Why is White Background Required?

The diversity visa lottery rules state that submitted photographs must have a white background. But why is a plain white background required? There are a few reasons:

  • Simplifies facial recognition – Removing clutter behind the head makes face detection more accurate.
  • Shows true skin tone – A white background better captures the subject’s natural skin color.
  • Highlights facial features – Dark backgrounds can obscure facial details.
  • Easier photo editing – White backgrounds simplify auto-cropping and resizing of images.
  • Neutral lighting – White backgrounds reflect light evenly with no shadows.

Overall, the white background highlights the applicant’s face for better recognition and processing. Other colored backgrounds like an office wall or curtain could distort the facial scan used for identification. Stick to plain white backgrounds for your entry photograph.

How to Take Photo with White Background

If you are having trouble getting a photo with an appropriate white background, here are some tips:

Photo Studio

The easiest approach is to visit a professional photo studio. Passport photo services at post offices, shipping stores, pharmacies, etc. will take photos in front of a white backdrop.

DIY Lightbox

You can create a DIY lightbox at home using a white poster board. Cut a hole in the middle to stick your head through and have a friend or camera on timer take the photo.

White Wall

Photograph yourself in front of a white painted wall, adjusting lighting to avoid shadows. A blank white dry-erase board can also work.

Background Remover Apps

Apps like PhotoRoom and let you take a picture then automatically remove and change the background to plain white.


Photo editing software like GIMP allows you to open an image and digitally erase the background. Just make sure to flatten image after.

With some creativity, you can produce a compliant white background without needing access to a professional photography setup.


Submitting the proper digital photograph is a critical requirement for entering the DV lottery. To summarize the key points:

  • Photo must be recent, in color, with a plain white background.
  • Your head must be bare, facing forward, with a neutral expression.
  • No eyewear like glasses should be worn in the photo.
  • Use a digital camera or smartphone camera to take the picture.
  • Image dimensions must be 600×600 pixels at 300 dpi resolution.
  • Save photo as a JPEG file with size of 240 kB or less.
  • Review all technical requirements to avoid simple mistakes.
  • Use a professional passport photo service if you need help creating the photo.

With attention to detail, you can submit a properly formatted photograph and maximize your chances of being selected for the diversity immigrant visa.