US Visa Applicants Need To Submit 5-Year Social Media History For Extreme Vetting
As a part of its action plan to enhance the screening process of potential immigrants and visitors, the Trump administration adopted a new policy on 1st June under which nearly all visa applicants will have to submit their social media details for the past five years.
According to Business Today, the change which was proposed in March 2018, requires most visa applicants including tourists to furnish their social media user names, previous email addresses, and phone numbers as part of the application process. The visa application forms will also include additional details concerning the visa medical examination which some applicants may be required to undergo. However, certain diplomatic and official visa applicants will be exempted from the requirements.
“National security is our top concern when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. We are continuously working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States,” said the state department. Previously, social media, email and phone number histories were needed from applicants who had travelled to those areas of the world which were controlled by terrorist organizations.
As per a report by US-based news agency Associated Press, in addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, deportation status, email addresses, and international travel, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
Emily Neumann, partner at immigration law firm Reddy & Neumann said that the requirement features on E-forms D-160 and D-260 filled by non-immigration and immigration visa applicants and used at US consulate offices. She states that the forms have a drop-down menu which requires applicants to list their social media handles which they have used during the five years preceding the application date. Facebook, Google+, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr are the social media platforms which are covered in the drop-down menu. However, the applicants who do not use social media will also have the option to say it.
This new policy can affect up to 15 million people who apply for US visas each year which includes 7,10,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants. It also includes those who want to come to the US for business or education.