International desk – Applicants seeking US visa will require their social media username to be provided along with the applications as the Trump administration is seeking a change in visa applications.
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 U.S. are processed.
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, international travel — all from the last five years.
The State Department, which filed a notice of the proposed change, estimates it will affect 14.71 million applicants, including those who apply as students, for business trips, or on vacation.
“Maintaining robust screening standards for visa applicants is a dynamic practice that must adapt to emerging threats,” State Department spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs Virginia Elliott said.
“Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” Elliott told the ABC.
Last May, the administration changed procedures to allow consular officers who process applicants at U.S. missions around the world to request more information from applicants if they had suspicions or doubts. For the first time, they included social media accounts, as well as prior passport numbers, greater detail about family members, and longer personal history, including travel, employment, and residence for the last 15 years, instead of the last five that applicants were already asked for.
But now, every applicant will be required to include five years of social media usernames on their application – some 15 million foreigners who apply for U.S. visas each year – although certain diplomatic and official visa applicants would usually be exempt.