ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 540 – August 12, 2013

This document has expired. For current information, please refer to OB 540-A.

Verification of Permanent Resident Photos at Visa Offices


The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to provide instructions to visa offices regarding their responsibility to verify photos submitted with applications for permanent residence (APR) and how to assess whether photos meet the required specifications.


Persons who are granted permanent resident status automatically initiate the processing of a Permanent Resident (PR) card following confirmation of that status. The photograph that is submitted with an APR is then captured on the PR card. It is therefore very important that the photograph meets the proper photo specifications. When a photograph is non-compliant, clients are required to retake their photo, which delays the processing of the PR card. As it currently stands, approximately 15% of photos must be retaken.

In an effort to reduce the number of photo retakes after a client has arrived in Canada, visa offices are asked to pay closer attention to the photographs to ensure that they meet the prescribed specifications. As the first point of contact, visa offices have the ability to catch non-compliant photos before a client is granted permanent resident status. Early detection helps to speed up the PR card process and reduce additional work by the ports of entry, local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices and the Sydney Case Processing Centre’s Permanent Resident Card Centre (PRCC Sydney) in Sydney, Nova Scotia.


When an APR is received at a visa office, the registry clerk must confirm that proper photographs have been submitted. The photograph should be examined to ensure that it was taken within the last six months and that it meets the photo specifications. See Appendix A: Permanent Resident Card Photo Specifications (PDF, 614.24KB) for a complete list of specifications. The name and date of birth of the applicant, as well as the date the photo was taken, should be written on the back of the photos, while one should be left blank.

When examining photos, visa offices should pay close attention to the following errors, which most commonly appear on non-compliant photos:

  • Photograph not in focus;
  • Incorrect photograph background (must be white);
  • Poor lighting;
  • Shadows on client’s face, especially around the ears; and
  • Incorrect head size (too large).

Please note that the actual size of the photo is less important, as PRCC Sydney can crop it after it has been scanned. It is for this reason that photo die-cutters have become obsolete and can no longer be ordered. However, should a photo be unusually large, scissors may be used to cut it down to size if it meets all other specifications.

If the photograph does not meet the required specifications, it should be returned to the applicant, along with a copy of Appendix A and/or B (Photo Specifications – Notes for Photographers (PDF, 535.24KB)) and instructions to submit new photos. While waiting for the new photos, processing can continue as usual, however, the application should not be finalized until new photographs are finally received.

Compliant photos must be on file when the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) is printed. The photo without the applicant’s information on the back must be mounted to the COPR using a photo patch (double-sided tape). Photo patches can be ordered using the IMM 1389 Requisition for Non-Controlled Immigration Form, by selecting the item (CIC 0108B – Photo Patch/Pièce encollée pour photo) from the drop-down menu and entering the number of packages required.

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