US flag signifying that this is a United States Federal Government website   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security

DHS Releases Religious Accommodation Guidance (February 2012)

Release Date: 
May 20, 2012

There are many circumstances in which DHS, in carrying out its varied missions, requires individuals to pose for or provide a photograph or provide fingerprints. Accordingly, the Department recently issued guidance for Components to develop policies for accommodating individuals required to pose for or provide photographs or to submit to fingerprinting.

The guidance includes considerations for photographing an individual wearing religious headwear, privacy for the removal of religious headwear, and the use of same-gender personnel for physically assisted fingerprinting. It is important to note that the standards concerning individuals wearing religious headwear solely pertain to situations involving photographs; it is not intended to address other situations where removal of headwear may be necessary for other reasons, such as to protect officer safety or in the course of a personal search.

DHS and other federal agencies are subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RRFA), which prohibits any Federal Government practice that substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion, unless the Government demonstrates that the practice represents the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest. This guidance does not address any Component's compliance with RRFA; it is only a statement of DHS policy.

The provisions and considerations outlined in this guidance should be reflected in Component policies and procedures that require photographs or fingerprints. CRCL will provide policy advice to DHS Components as they incorporate these standards into their existing and newly developed policies.

Read the Guidance for Accommodating Religious Beliefs in DHS Policies Requiring Fingerprinting or Photographic Identification.

By mail or phone:
The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Building 410, Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528

Phone: 202-401-1474
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
TTY: 202-401-0470
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361
Fax: 202-401-4708

By e-mail:

Review Date: 
July 16, 2015
Back to Top