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DOS Issues No Eyeglasses Policy for All Visa and Passport Photographs

passport and travelBeginning Nov. 1, 2016, the “No Eyeglasses Policy” will go into effect. Under this policy, Consular Affairs will no longer accept photographs of visa and passport applicants wearing eyeglasses, except in rare, medically-documented circumstances. Consular Affairs will implement this policy with a soft one-month enforcement period from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, 2016, after which photographs with eyeglasses will no longer be accepted. Photographs with eyeglasses that passport and visa applicants submit during this one-month grace period, which are not processed until a later date, will be accepted.

Consular Affairs decided to prohibit photographs of applicants wearing eyeglasses to enhance the performance of facial recognition. This prohibition increases the overall accuracy of facial recognition software and decreases the likelihood of misidentifying an applicant.

Under the No Eyeglasses Policy, an applicant may wear eyeglasses in a visa or passport application photograph in rare circumstances of medical necessity, for example, when an applicant has had recent ocular surgery and eyeglasses are necessary to protect his/her eyes during urgent travel. In these cases, applicants must provide a medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner. Posts must issue a limited one-year validity passport when the medical condition is temporary and travel is imminent.

If the eyeglasses are accepted for medical reasons, certain criteria apply:
a) The frames of the eyeglasses must not cover the eyes;
b) There must not be a glare on the eyeglasses that obscure the eye; and
c) There must not be shadows or refraction from the eyeglasses that obscures the eye.

If you have questions on applying for an U.S. visa, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!