U.S. Visa process now needs Social Media Profiles

Under a new rule, the United States has asked all Visa applicants to must provide information on their social media use and declare their social media profiles going back five years.

Key Highlights

  • Background: The new Visa rules originates from a March 2017 executive order issued by US President Donald Trump which was intended to put extreme vetting into place to curb immigration into US. Later in April 2018, the US State Department first published the rule to expand social media history data collection to all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants
  • Objective: The move is an attempt by US to enhance the careful examining of foreign nationals seeking Visa and to screen out terrorists and other dangerous individuals seeking entry into America.

Key Features:

  • Unlike earlier when only certain individuals whose applications required further review were required to provide social media information, now  the social media use information is required as part of all online visa applications including immigrant form DS-260 and non-immigrant form DS-160. This new policy of declaring social media profiles is adopted by US State Department.
  • Most visa applicant’s (even temporary visitors) will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop down menu in addition to their other personal information.
  • If in any case the visa applicants do not use social media they will have the option to say so but if applicant lies about social media use, they could face serious consequences.  Also, in the future, visa applicants will be required to turn more extensive information on their travel history.
  • Coverage: The rule covers all applicants except those who are applying for certain official and diplomatic visas.
  • Significance: The new rule is a significant move to increase surveillance of those seeking to enter the United States and is expected to affect about 15 million people annually. With the new proposal in place a high volume of Indian applications are likely to be impacted.
  • Criticism: In the absence of any criteria to guide the use of social media information in visa adjudication process there is no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair.

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