Do It Yourself Photograph Instructions for Passport, Visa, OCI Card

There are different sets of requirements for photographs such as an Indian Passport, U.S. Passport, U.S. Visa, Indian Visa, Greencard, PIO card, OCI card, etc.

Most places in the U.S. provide you standard 2″ x 2″ photographs with a white background, typically used for a U.S. passport and green card. However, for other documents like an OCI card, for example, there is a unique set of requirements such as a 3.5cm x 3.5cm without a border and a light background (not white) photograph.

Photo specifications and instructions:
US Visa, Greencard, Lottery
OCI card, Indian Passport

It can be a quite frustrating experience to get the pictures taken which are not typical size or color or have any special requirements. Most stores you go to won’t understand or would simply be unwilling to listen to your requirements. There used to be an option earlier where you could take the digital picture yourself with your own camera and go to places like CVS or Wal-Mart and use Kodak instant photo printing machine where you could simply print passport size photographs. However, most stores have disabled that feature so that you don’t get 6 passport size photographs for 30 cents, as they would like to charge you $7.99 for 2 photos, for example. (You can only print standard photographs like 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″ etc.) But then, they will not take your pictures according to your requirements. Even if you just need standard pictures that they take, they may refuse to take pictures of infants or babies or they may refuse to take extra takes (poses) if the baby is not cooperating or crying.

However, you can follow the simple procedures described below to avoid running around the stores and wasting your time and money.


  • Go to the store where office supplies are available: e.g., Office Depot, Staples, Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, etc. or order online from places like

  • Look for a poster board of the color you are looking for. e.g., blue color for India’s OCI card while white color for U.S. visa or green card. It would typically cost you around $1 to $2.

  • Go back home and stick the poster board with tape on the wall at the height according to the height of the person being photographed so that that poster board would be around the backside of the head.

  • Take the picture with a digital camera. Don’t worry about it being exactly in the center or being too far or too near (zoom issues).

  • Transfer that digital photo file (.jpg file) to your computer.

  • Go to websites such as ePassportPhoto.

  • Choose the country and the type of document you would like to use the photo for. e.g., India and Overseas Citizenship or the United States and Visa or any other combination you need, and click on ‘Get My Free Passport Photos’.

  • Upload the photo and click ‘Next’.

  • Follow the instructions on the screen to choose the right area of the photo.

  • You can either ask them to mail the photographs to you at a charge, or you can download the photograph for free.

  • Assuming you want the free option, click on ‘Download and Print’.

  • Click on ‘Download the photo sheet image’ and save the image.

  • When you open that image in your computer, you will see an image that would print on standard 4″ x 6″ photo sheet, but depending upon the desired photo size, it has anywhere from 6 to 10 photographs.

  • Go to any retail store that has an instant photo printing machine (such as Kodak machine at CVS, for example) and choose to print the standard 4″ x 6″ photo and you will get anywhere from 6 to 10 photos at less than 50 cents.

  • Please note that each photograph is exactly the size you need. Just cut them with scissors or any other photo cutting instrument and use them.

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