As the National security becomes the top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. Now The State Department is now requiring visa applicants to submit social media account information for the past five years. As per the new directive, the Visa applicants to the United States are required to submit any information about social media accounts such as previous email addresses and phone numbers they have used in the past five years under a State Department policy. The new visa application forms list a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years. They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form. Information such as international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities is also furnished. It's a vast expansion of the Trump administration's enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors.
"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 department reportedly said.
Importantly, as per the revised US visa forms, which was first proposed in March 2018, require most visa applicants, including tourists, to furnish their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers as part of the application process. The change is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year. Previously, only applicants who needed additional vetting - such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups - would need to hand over this data.
At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union - a civil rights group - said there is "no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair", and said it would cause people to self-censor themselves online. US President Donald Trump made cracking down on immigration a key plank of his election campaign in 2016. He also called for "extreme vetting" of immigrants before and during his time in office. The Trump administration first proposed the rules in March 2018.