Applying for a United States visa will now require applicants to disclose information from their social media accounts and handles.
The change to the application process came into effect on 31 May 2019. According to Afar, the change to the visa application process was outlined in March 2018, as part of the Trump administration’s ‘enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors.’
Applicants wanting to get into the US will have to disclose their social media usernames/ handles for platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the last five years. This will give the US government data and information such as photos, locations the applicant has visited, and more.
The US visa application form is also asking applicants to share personal information such as cellphone numbers and email addresses that were used during the same five-year period.
According to Afar, the form requests information pertaining to previous travels, deportation status and if any family members have been involved in terrorist activity. For those that do not use social media, there is an option to indicate this.
The New York Times reports that the department’s new requirement, stipulated in the Federal Register, says that the information collected will include ‘social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results, coming from publicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers.’
According to Afar, an official from the US State Department said in a statement, ‘National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening.
‘We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.’
The new rule pertains to anyone applying for an immigrant and non-immigrant visa for the United States.
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