Travelers in need of a US visa will soon have to submit a list of the social media they use, and the name of their account in each, as a part of their US Visa application. In addition, nearly all applicants will have to submit their phone number, email and social media history of the five previous years.
The US State Department has approved a proposal of March 2018, which suggested that travelers to the US should submit these details in addition to the standard required documents.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the department said, adding that they are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve the screening processes to protect US citizens.
This measure comes as a result of the ‘extreme vetting’ that the US State Department wants to start applying, which has also been one of the biggest electoral promises of President Trump as a way to combat terrorism.
Among the social media platforms required are also the US-based entities such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit and YouTube.
According to a notice posted by the Federal Register, in April 2018 the platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms. Additional platforms will be added only if the collection is consistent with the uses described in the Supporting Statement and after the Office of Management and Budget approval.
In fact, the requirement had started to apply to some specific categories of travelers since 2016, during the Obama presidency, after the shootings in 2015 in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. Since then, it is estimated that around 65 thousand people per year are required to submit such information, including travelers that have previously traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.
The new measure will affect around 15 million people per year, both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants. Exempt from this requirement may be only certain state officials and diplomats.