The U.S. may soon be asking visa applicants about their social media history.
According to a recent notice, the U.S. Department of State says it is proposing new questions for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants that will require them to disclose all social media identities they have used in the past five years. According to this March 30, 2018 notice, applicants may also have to answer questions about their international travels and provide a five-year history of their phone numbers and email addresses.
As a result, non-U.S. residents will need to prepare for the possibility that they will need to collect even more relevant personal data and documentation ahead of their U.S. visa appointments. These additional background checks, together with heightened U.S. scrutiny, could potentially result in visa issuance delays and denials. The U.S. says this proposed policy amendment would include exemptions for diplomatic and official visas.
The public has 60 days to comment on the revised procedures, after which the Office of Management and Budget will subsequently approve or reject the proposal.
In May 2017, the State Department received approval for its request to collect social media identifiers after determining whether such information is necessary to "confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting", but only from applicants deemed to pose a potential risk of terrorism.
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