Published: Fri, March 30, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

State Dept. wants to ask visa applicants for social media info

State Dept. wants to ask visa applicants for social media info

The State Department is planning to require all USA visa applicants to submit personal details about their social media accounts, including usernames and phone numbers, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Along with this, they will also be required to submit all of their email addresses and phone numbers for the last five years. The requirement is significantly broader than previous filings, which had made disclosure voluntary and applied to only a portion of visa applicants identified for extra scrutiny. That's about 65,000 people annually.

Documents detail that under the policy, immigrant and non-immigrant Visa forms will be asked for their usernames for a specific list of social media accounts.

It says those requirements will affect almost 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States.

In addition, travelers will have to furnish their phone numbers, email addresses and travel history during the previous five years, and to reveal any immigration problems they have had, whether with the USA or elsewhere.

Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types may be exempted from the requirements, according to the documents.

Applicants would also have the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application.

The changes would impact all nonimmigrant visa applicants to the United States - an estimated 14 million individuals, according to the department.

The documents were posted on the Federal Register's website Thursday but the 60-day public comment period will not begin until Friday's edition is published, said the report.

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