The US government has a free tool that can crop your photo for a US visa or passport. It has been updated recently, however, new features come along with new errors. One of the most popular ones is the rejection to process your picture further because it “does not need cropping”. Scroll down to find out how to manage that.

More About the Photo Tool

The online software allows you to edit your image in 2 ways:

  • Automatically. It’ll locate the head and crop the picture by itself. Mind that it’s not the most reliable method
  • Manually. In this case, you can locate the position of your eyes yourself to make the results more accurate. To do that you can drag the icons with red eyes and place them over yours. NOTE: It’s not a red-eye correction tool

US Visa or Passport Photo Requirements

  • The size of the digital image is 600×600 pixel
  • The head must be in the middle, occupying from 25 to 35 mm or 50-70% of the photo
  • The top of the shoulders is visible. There must be from 28 to 35 mm between the eye line and the lower frame
  • There must be some space between your head and the upper edges

Your Photo Does Not Need Cropping: Fixing the Error

Don’t get confused if you come across such an error. In fact, it means that your photo is already of the right size. This happens if you upload the already edited JPEG file. This program only works with the originals that don’t undergo any prior photoshopping. However, it doesn’t mean that the final image will end up being 100% compliant with the specifications.

Other Problems

You may face other U.S Photo Tool errors when uploading your file. If it says that it’s overly compressed, it means you’ll need to get a lower compression ratio. Watch the how-to YouTube videos to do this or try taking another shot with your smartphone.

Is the US Photo Tool Reliable?

When choosing the U.S Photo Tool, remember that this free editor does not guarantee your photo will be accepted in online applications. It’s good at cropping the image. Sometimes, it is capable of locating your head correctly. But most often, it compromises the quality by making your head too big or shifting sideways. You may try using it, but it’s still better to opt for professional online editing services for better results.

Alternatives to a U.S Photo Tool

If you want to ensure your image is of acceptable quality, you can use a professional automated US passport and visa photo service. It works the same way as the U.S Photo Tool, just appears to be a bit more reliable. After you’ve submitted the JPEG file, it processes the photo in a couple of seconds. But unlike its government counterpart, it manages to get much more done. In addition to cropping and eye line optimization, you’ll get:

  • An improved background. The tool removes it out without compromising your silhouette. It then adds a white-off color to meet the official specifications
  • Templates for printing. You’ll also download a file with ready-made templates. Print them out if you need an image in paper format

Additionally, the support team is always available for you to contact them 24/7. In case the picture was rejected for any reason, you’ll get a full refund and a new one free of charge.

Tips to Make a Good Photo

  1. Choose the spot across the window and take the image during daytime. It’ll create proper lighting and increase the quality of the photo. Make sure there are no dark areas or over-exposure.
  2. Opt for monochrome clothes. Dark colors will make your outline sharper.
  3. Make the shape of your face clearly visible. Take off glasses, hats, and other headwear. Your hair shouldn’t get in the way, so tuck it back.
  4. Use a tripod or a similar alternative 1,5 away from your face. Selfie is not an option. 
  5. Pull your shoulders back and lift your chin to present more put together.
  6. Do not adjust the photo yourself using photo enhancement tools like photoshop.

You can find the photo editing tool on the US Bureau of Consular Affairs that is free of charge to check if your photo is of the correct size. However, it often provides the result with errors, ruining the image. For some reason it’s not designed to guarantee compliance with the official standards. Use the alternative photo editors to make sure your photo is of best quality and matches the government specifications.

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Terry Ts

By Terry Ts

Focusing China's mobile phone and electric vehicle market, senior automotive media reporter.