The photo requirements for the DV Lottery are rigorous. Even minor deviations will result in your immediate disqualification by the US authorities. To prevent this, we will guide you through the DV Lottery photo process and get you one step closer to getting your Green Card.
The US government has established precise photo rules for the yearly DV Lottery. They determine the format, size, and age of the photos to be submitted and specify rules for wearing glasses and headgear.
These rules apply to all pictures you are submitting. You might ask yourself: how many images are even needed for the DV Lottery? The answer: one picture for each person who would acquire the right to a Green Card due to your DV Lottery win.
Therefore, you must submit a picture of yourself, your spouse (if applicable), and your children.
For your DV Lottery registration, you should not use the same photo as in your passport unless it is very new. Why? The US authorities will compare your DV Lottery photo with your passport and might conclude that the picture is not up to date. But how old may a Green Card photo be?
The submitted photo for the DV Lottery may not be verifiably older than six months and must match your current appearance. Therefore, do not use images from the previous DV Lottery year. The US authorities take a close look at the photo. Registering with an old picture will lead to your disqualification.
However, there is a trick to “disguise” a slightly too old photo and make it work for the DV Lottery process. Your Green Card advisors from The American Dream know how it’s done and are happy to assist you. To use this service, register now.
Note: We remove all EXIF-data from photos before submitting them. If you submit a slightly older picture, it will not be recognizable by the US authorities as long as you apply via dvlottery.com.
Your DV Lottery photo must have a light and neutral background without any shadows or patterns. So if you take the picture yourself, the best would be to stand in front of a white wall.
Your head has to be completely visible and centered in the photo, taking up around 50 % of the whole picture. Face the camera directly, pull your hair back and keep your eyes fully open and visible (no glasses allowed). The most important question at this point is: “Can you smile in a US visa photo?” Here is the answer:
In your DV Lottery photo, a gentle smile is allowed. Big smiles, however, lead to disqualification. To be on the safe side, better use a neutral facial expression and don’t show your teeth in your Green Card photo.
Head coverings are only permitted in DV Lottery photos when worn for religious reasons. However, the face must be visible from the forehead to the chin.
Non-religious headgear is not allowed in the image for the DV Lottery registration. Wearing a baseball cap, hat, beanie, or similar headgear will lead to disqualification.
You cannot wear glasses or sunglasses in a DV Lottery photo, even if you usually wear them as a visual aid. In very rare cases where eyeglasses may not be removed for medical reasons, you can leave them on but have to provide a medical statement signed by your doctor.
Given all the rules involving headgear and glasses, it's no wonder many people are worried about their look for the photo. So what should you wear in a Green Card photo?
As long as your face is fully visible from the forehead to the chin, there is no such thing as a dress code. With one exception: you should not wear a uniform or camouflage look.
The rules say: your DV Lottery photo must reflect your current look. But there is a little margin: growing or shaving a beard and even coloring your hair is acceptable, even if your current look differs from the one on your Green Card photo.
However, after going through body changes, you need to make sure you can still be identified from the photo you submitted. So how much can you change your look before you have to take a new DV Lottery photo? Here are some reasons to better take a new photo:
Unless you are very experienced with photo editing software, you should not digitally edit your DV Lottery photo. The reason is that a poorly edited image can have deviations from reality that lead to disqualification by the US authorities.
But if not with photo editing software, how do you resize a photo for the DV Lottery? The DV Lottery photo tool will assist you while applying on dvlottery.com and help you submit your photo in exactly the right format.
With this software integrated into the application process, you can:
- with just a click!
If you plan to take the photo for your DV Lottery application yourself, make sure you have a good (smartphone) camera available. Stand in front of a plain white wall or use the help of a white sheet.
Also, make sure you have enough lighting and that there are no shadows on your face or in the background. When taking the photo, hold the camera in front of your torso at a sufficient distance.
When registering for the DV Lottery, you must submit a digital photo whose size is between 600x600 pixels and 1200x1200 pixels. It may not exceed 240 KB and must be a high-quality JPG (JPEG) without blurry or unsharp areas or visible pixels.
For the DV Lottery, you must submit a full-color photo with a minimum color depth of 24 bits. You may not register with a black and white image.
When registering directly with the US authorities, it is not possible to submit analog photos. However, when participating with The American Dream, you may send in printed or analog pictures, which we will digitize on your behalf. The submitted photo should be 51x51mm.
You may submit a scanned photo when registering for the DV Lottery. However, make sure it meets all the requirements for DV Lottery photos. Scan the print with a resolution of 300 dpi and make sure that the scan is sharp and clear without blurry areas or shadows.
We are happy to support you in digitizing your photo. To use our service, apply for the DV Lottery here.
When taking photos of your infants, make sure there is no other person in the picture. The child may not wear a pacifier, their face must be fully visible, and the eyes have to be open.
To meet the background requirements (light and neutral), you can use a white sheet. It can take some time to get a decent photo of a baby. Therefore, can you submit DV Lottery photos after your registration?
When registering for the DV Lottery via The American Dream, you can take your time and hand in your photo(s) at a later date.
We provide registration all year round to make sure you have enough time to take your photo(s) according to the strict DV Lottery photo requirements and, if necessary, make subsequent corrections. To benefit from this service, register for your Green Card on dvlottery.com.
The team of The American Dream will double-check and verify the accuracy of your DV Lottery registration, data, and photo before submitting your application to the US authorities in due form and time.
Note: Should you register directly with the US authorities, you must submit everything right away. Also, registration on the US state website is only possible for about four weeks in October/November every year.
|Submitting DV Lottery photo(s)||via dvlottery.com||via U.S. Department of State website|
|Brief double check if the photo meets the requirements||✅||❌|
|Feedback on your photo and a chance to correct faulty images||✅||❌|
|Submission all year round||✅||❌|
|Direct contact person||✅||❌|
|Later photo submission (after registration) possible?||✅||❌|
After registering for the DV Lottery directly with the US authorities, it is not possible to make changes to photos once they are submitted.
Should you find out that your photo does not meet one of the requirements after registering, there is no way around being disqualified.
Note: The US authorities will not inform you if your photo is incorrect. Your only chance for a brief double-check, professional feedback and a correction loop is to apply via dvlottery.com
The earlier, the better: when applying via dvlottery.com, you can also take advantage of our early-bird discount.
If you want to succeed in the DV Lottery, make sure you stick to all of the DV Lottery photo rules. Here is your summarized DV Lottery photo checklist:
|Background||Bright and neutral|
|Head size||The face (from chin to hair) must be around 50 % of the total height of the photo.|
|Head position||Straight look into the camera|
|Light||Must not be overexposed or underexposed. No shadows!|
|Digital editing||Not recommended|
|Face||Must not be covered by hair. The facial expression should be neutral.|
|Headgear||Not permitted except for religious reasons|
|File size||Maximum 240 KB|
|Photo age||The photo must not be verifiably older than six months.|
The team of The American Dream has been helping people on their way to the USA for 25 years. Find out more about our service and fees.