Spectacles No Longer Allowed in Visa/Passport Photos
Starting November 1, 2016, Consular Affairs (CA) will no longer accept photos of applicants for visa and passport purposes that are wearing eyeglasses, except in rare, medically-documented circumstances. CA has stated that a soft one-month enforcement period will be implemented however after November 30, 2016 they will not accept any photographs with eyeglasses.
Reason Behind the Change
You may be wondering what the reasoning is behind this change. According to the CA, the decision to prohibit eyeglasses in applicants’ photos is to increase the overall accuracy of their facial recognition software and decrease the likelihood of being misidentified. Eyeglasses can create glares, shadows, and/or retractions that obscure the eye(s) in photographs.
The Department went into further details of what was required for those rare, medically necessary cases. An applicant must provide a medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner. If the condition is temporary and travel is imminent, the applicant will be issued a limited one-year passport.
Refusing Applications Starting in December
During the month of November, posts have been told to not refuse an application submitted with the applicant wearing glasses. However, starting December 1, 2016, any applicant that has submitted a photograph with eyeglasses on should expect to receive a temporary refusal letter instructing them to provide an updated photo.