- The US State Department is now requiring virtually all visa applicants to submit their social media information.
- The new rule was first proposed in March 2018.
- US visa applicants now need to hand over their social media accounts, email addresses, and phone numbers used over the past five years.
The US State Department is now requiring those who are applying for US visas to submit their social media usernames, as well as email addresses and phone numbers used over the past five years. If other social media accounts are not listed on the form, applicants are given the option to provide them.
In a move that’s just taken effect after approval of the revised application forms, the department says it has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to request the additional information, including “social media identifiers,” from almost all US applicants. The new rule was first proposed in March 2018 and is an enhancement to the screening of potential immigrants and visitors.
The State Department said in a statement,
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening.
We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
These new forms now list out a number of social media platforms, under which applicants need to fill out any username they have had over the past five years. Some of these social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Weibo.
According to reports, any applicant who lies about their social media use can face “serious immigration consequences.” In addition, the new visa requirements now not only ask you if you have personally been involved in terrorism-related activities but your family too.
Before this, social media information was only requested from applicants who required extra scrutiny, like those who traveled to areas reportedly controlled by terrorist organizations, which is estimated to be around 65,000 applicants per year.
The department says collecting the additional information from more applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.” Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempted from the requirements.
The change is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year.
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