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Both the Form I-130 and Form I-129F petitions require that you file passport-style photographs of the U.S. petitioner and foreign beneficiary. To avoid needless delay, make sure your photographs comply with the required specifications.
USCIS adopts photograph guidelines used by the Department of State, available here.
Photo credit: Department of State.
The requirement that trips up foreign nationals most often is the dimensions – the photograph needs to be 2 inches square. Why is this a problem? Because almost every other country uses a different dimension for its passport photos. So if you go into a typical shop in the Philippines and ask for a passport photo, you will walk away with something the size of your thumbnail. Your fiancée needs to specifically request the dimensions required by USCIS.
Don’t be a cheapskate here – pay for a professional shop to do your passport photo. You can go to practically any drug store in the United States and get a rule-compliant photo for $10-20. Costco does them at many locations. If you setup a camera at home and try to DIY there is a good chance you will mess things up. I had a client who was a brilliant computer software engineer – he tried to do his own photo and we sent him on to the drugstore. Seriously – spend the $10. Likewise, most places outside the U.S. it is easy to acquire a photo that will comply with DOS requirements.
The passport-style photographs need to be submitted with your initial petition (Form I-130 or Form I-129F). Under current guidelines, you no longer need to submit any original documents from the foreign national with that packet. This means that your spouse/fiancee can potentially send you all of the required supporting documents electronically, saving you the expense and time of international shipping.
Instead of having your spouse/fiancee mail you the passport-style photograph, a more efficient approach is to send a digital copy. You can ask a local drug store or photo studio to reprint it for you. Or if you have access to a high-quality color printer, you can do so yourself on glossy photo stock paper. There are a number of free online utilities that can help you resize the photograph to appropriate dimensions: https://www.123passportphoto.com/ and https://makepassportphoto.com/.
Pro tip – name, DOB + plastic slip. Submit passport-style photographs the way that all immigration lawyers do. Write your full name and date of birth on the back of each photograph. It’s a very easy step to ensure that things don’t get messed up when your packet is opened at the USCIS mailroom. You can simply paper clip your photos to the top of the packet if you like. A better practice is to buy some cheap plastic photo slips. That’s what we do at the law firm to ensure that the front of the photographs don’t get scuffed up.
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