The US State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants to submit their social media profiles as part of their visa applications.
Reports from the Associated Press, BBC, Bloomberg and other media outlets said the State department is ordering visa applicants to submit their social media usernames, email addresses and phone numbers used in the last five years.
The change in requirement was proposed in March 2018 as part of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors but it has reportedly taken effect after the approval of revised applications form.
The State Department said it updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to request the additional information, including “social media identifiers,” from almost all applicants.
It said that collection of additional information from applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.”
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the department was quoted in a report by the Associated Press.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States,” it added.
Aside from social media accounts, the State Department will also ask applicants of their international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
The new policy is eyed to affect around 15 million foreigners who apply for US visas yearly.
It will, however, exempt applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types from submitting the new requirements.
Previously, the new requirements such as social media, e-mail addresses and phone number histories were only required from applicants who were identified for “extra scrutiny.” This includes those who traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.
Source – Philstar Global