United States to require social media account from visa seekers

Apr 02, 2018, 10:26
United States to require social media account from visa seekers

All applicants will require making available five years of social media history, according to a proposed new rule, a move that came as a major expansion of President Donald Trump's effort to implement "extreme vetting" and change how immigrants and visitors to the USA are processed.

The extreme vetting proposals are listed in two documents set to be published online Friday, marking a short period before the federal government finalizes the measures.

This level of disclosure would include both immigrant and non-immigrant applicants.

If the requirements are approved by the Office of Management and Budget, applications for all visa types would list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

They will be forced to reveal all social media accounts deployed in the last five years.

In a statement emailed to The Register, a State Department spokesperson said the proposed changes follow from President Trump's March 2017 Memorandum and Executive Order 13780 and reflect the need for screening standards to address emerging threats.

If adopted, it will affect nearly 15 million people who apply for a United States visa every year, the vast majority of which are tourists and those who travel to the country for business or education purposes. As Engadget notes, officials have included social media handles and searches in Visa applications since before the Trump administration.

According to ABC news online, the proposed rule would require foreigners applying for a visa to include their social media usernames on various platforms including Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, as well as previous email addresses, phone numbers, worldwide travel - all from the last five years.

"Under this proposal, almost all United States visa applicants will be asked to provide additional information, including their social media identifiers, prior passport numbers, information about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment, and contact information than is collected in current visa application forms", the spokesperson said.

The handful of comments submitted so far decry the proposed changes.

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