The State Department is looking to make it mandated that all American visa applicants include social media information, as well as past phone numbers and email addresses moving forward, as the Trump administration continues to increase vetting procedures around visitors and immigrants.
Via documents that will be published in the Federal Register come this Friday April 6th, the Department has stated it would like the public to offer feedback on this proposed new rule, which might affect the close to 15 million individuals who plan to apply for U.S. visas to enter the country annually. In the past, email/phone number histories and social media were only asked from those who were identified as needing scrutiny, such as visitors from regions controlled by terrorist groups; this added layer affects approximately 65,000 people annually.
Still, Travelweek advises that these new requirements would be put in place for most all applicants looking for non-immigrant (about 14 million people) and immigrant (about 710,000 people) visas, which includes individuals coming to the country for education or business purposes.
The proposed new rules were published on the Federal Register’s on Thursday March 30th and the public has 60 days to comment on this, starting the following Friday.
If this is approved, all visa applications would offer a section to list all current social media handles and any that have lingered over the past five years, and it would offer applicants an area to voluntarily provide information about social media platforms not listed on the paper. Additionally, visa applicants will have to document current and past phone numbers over the last five years, as well as email addresses, deportation status, and international travel. There is also a section around family members that have been a part of terrorist activities.
The only applicants potentially exempted from these new requirements are specific official and diplomatic visas.