Operational Bulletin 540-B (modified) – April 8, 2016

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

Verification of permanent resident photos at visa processing offices


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


Admission as a new permanent resident automatically triggers the processing of a permanent resident card (PRC). The photo that is affixed to the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) is used to produce the initial PRC. It is therefore very important that the photo meet the specifications. When a photo is non-compliant, applicants must retake their photo, which delays the processing of the PRC.

To reduce the number of photo retakes after an applicant arrives in Canada, visa processing offices must carefully examine applicant photos to ensure that they meet the specifications.

As the first point of handling, visa processing offices have the ability to catch non-compliant photos before they are affixed to COPRs. Early detection helps to speed up the PRC process and reduces additional work by the ports of entry, local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offices and the PRC processing centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia.


When photos are received from the applicant, the processing office must confirm that they meet the specifications. The photos should be examined to ensure that they were taken by a commercial photographer within six months before the date on which they were received by IRCC and that they meet IRCC’s specifications.

See the permanent resident photograph specifications – notes to the applicant and the photographer for a complete list of specifications. The name and complete address of the photo studio and the date the photo was taken, along with the applicant’s name and date of birth, must be included on the back of one photo. One photo should be left blank.

When examining photos, processing offices should also watch for the following errors, which most commonly appear on non-compliant photos:

  • altered original;
  • taken from an existing photo;
  • out of focus subject;
  • incorrect photo background (must be white);
  • poor lighting;
  • shadows on the applicant’s face, especially around the ears.

If the photo does not meet the specifications, it should be returned to the applicant, along with a copy of the permanent resident photograph specifications – notes to the applicant and the photographer and instructions to submit new photos. Until the new photos are received, processing should continue as usual; however, the application cannot be finalized until compliant photos are received.

Compliant photos must be used on COPRs. The photo without the applicant’s information on the back must be affixed to the COPR with a photo patch (double-sided tape). Photo patches can be ordered using the 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.


In November 2015, IRCC began implementing new photo specifications in connection with the production of a new design (third generation) for PRCs. Appendix A reflects the updated photo specifications. Kit amendments are being made so that new applications submitted to IRCC will require photos with the updated specifications. Visa processing offices must ensure that any local documentation that references former photo specifications is discarded and must update any local templates.

Offices processing APRs may have an inventory of files with photos compliant with the former specifications. As a transition strategy, IRCC will be able to produce PRCs based on the new design with photos compliant with either the former or the new specifications. Production costs may be higher for cards with photos compliant with the former specifications than for cards with photos compliant with new specifications. This means that efforts should be made, where possible, to use photos compliant with new specifications on COPRs. These efforts should include requesting photos compliant with new specifications where this would normally be done as part of the ordinary course of business. For example, many offices already request updated photos as part of the final stage of processing before generating a COPR.

In cases where requesting new photos may cause undue hardship to the applicant (e.g., refugees who have already submitted photos compliant with the former specifications and for whom requesting new photos could delay resettlement) or may otherwise unduly delay finalization of an application, it may be appropriate to use the photos already on file, which are compliant with the former specifications, when preparing the COPR.

Additional notes

  1. Visa processing offices should no longer use die cutters to crop photos submitted with permanent residence applications.
  2. The change to the photo specifications does not impact the photo patch. Visa processing offices must continue using existing photo patches or purchasing additional stock via the process described above.

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