Social Media and Deeper Background Information Required of U.S. Visa Applicants

 

The Administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last 5 years and biographical information going back 15 years. The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23, 2017 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a wide range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.

Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.

Under the new procedures, Consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, 5 years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.

Officials will request the additional information when they determine that the information is required to confirm the identity of the visa applicant or to conduct more rigorous national security vetting.

The State Department said that the tougher vetting would apply to visa applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”

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