Operational Bulletin 540-A – December 16, 2014

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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

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 (APRs) 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 card (PRC) following confirmation of that status. The photograph that is submitted with an APR is then captured on the PRC. 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 PRC. 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 PRC process and reduce additional work by the ports of entry, local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices and the Permanent Resident Card Centre of the Case Processing Centre 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 by a commercial photographer 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 complete address of the photo studio and the date the photo was taken must be included on the back of one photo. The same photo should also contain the name and date of birth of the applicant. One photo 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:

  • Altered original
  • Taken from an existing photo
  • Out of focus subject
  • Incorrect photograph background (must be white)
  • Poor lighting
  • Shadows on the client’s face, especially around the ears
  • Incorrect head size (too large)

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 Appendix B (Photo Specifications – Notes to the applicant and the photographer (PDF, 535.24KB)) and instructions to submit new photos. Processing can continue as usual even though the new photographs have not been received; however, the application should not be finalized until new photographs are 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 form Requisition for Non-Controlled Immigration Forms [IMM 1389], 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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