Before we look at other items on the Document Checklist we should talk about your visa photo. You will need a single 2-inch by 2-inch color, glossy photograph of yourself to glue to your visa application. You will also need a digital version of the photo to upload during the Indian Government online application process, which we describe in the next section. It makes sense to get the photo done now, before you start the Government application, so you have the digital file ready to go and you can complete the application process without needing to stop in the middle for a photography session.
You can either go to a company that creates professional passport photos and have a 2-inch by 2-inch photo taken and printed for you, or you can use your own digital camera. If you have the photo done professionally, ask the company for both physical prints as well as a copy of the digital file, which you will upload during the online visa application process. You are not supposed to use the same photo that was used to make your US passport.
There is a detailed PDF document describing the required visa photograph on the Cox & Kings Global Services website. Here is how to find that document:
If you do use your own camera, be sure to read this PDF document to see the instructions and sample photos. In short, you will need a white background, good lighting, no glasses, no smiling, and open eyes.
There is a useful website called www.idphoto4you.com which has helped us correctly format and crop our own 2x2 photos. This website does have an annoying countdown timer that will force you to wait for over a minute if you choose to use the site without endorsing it on social media, but it does a great job converting amateur photography into usable visa photos. After you crop your photo using the online tools, the site allows you to download it in several size formats.
We used this website to create a standard 4x6 inch image which contains four 2x2 inch copies of the visa photo. We then took the digital image file to our local pharmacy where in about a minute we were able to make a glossy print for less than 50 cents. As an example, here is the visa photo the online tool created for our son:
We cut this single print into four visa photos that were later accepted by the Indian Government without any issues. We then used the www.idphoto4you.com website a second time and downloaded a single photo version (using the 600 dpi setting), which we uploaded during the Government visa application process described in the next section.
You will need your visa photo (both printed and a jpg digital file) in the next section, so please get this done before continuing.