Looking for a US Visa? You May Be Forced to Disclose Your Social Media Handles

According to multiple stories from several news outlets, the United States may begin requiring visitors applying for US Non-immigration Visas to provide their social media history. Pursuant to stories published by Reuters, The New York Times, and BBC, it appears that the Trump Administration would like to add a new social media information collection requirement for individuals applying for a Visa to enter the United States. The requirement would be a full disclosure of all social media identities that the person used within the past five years. In addition, applicants could also be forced to turn over other personal data when applying for a US Non-immigration Visa.

What are the Current Rules for Social Media Accounts?

The current rule that was implemented last May stated officials could request social media account information if they believed the information was necessary to confirm a Visa applicant’s identity. The information may also be used to conduct more meticulous national security vetting before a person is granted a US Immigrant Visa to enter the country. The additional vetting process was intended to apply only individuals who warranted the additional security because of national security-related issues or connections to terrorism.

The current rules apply to applicants seeking immigrant visas. It is estimated that the social media condition of an immigrant visa application affected about 710,000 people each year requesting to enter the United States.

However, the State Department has announced a new proposal that would make the rules applicable to individuals seeking Non-immigration Visas too, which could impact roughly 14 million people each year.

How Does the New Social Media Data Collection Proposal Work for Applications for Non-immigration Visas?

The public has two months to comment on the proposal before the Office of Management and Budget decides whether to approve the proposal. The State Department commented that the “robust screening standards” must change to address emerging threats. The State Department went on to say that by collecting this additional information from applicants seeking Non-immigration Visas would strengthen the vetting process.

What would the new proposal require applicants for Non-immigration Visas to provide:

  • Information about their social media accounts for the past five years covering at least 20 social media platforms. The platforms are based both in the United States and overseas and include Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Myspace, Flickr, Instagram, and many others both at home and abroad.
  • Information about other accounts used during the past five years, including email addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Applicants would also be required to disclose their international travel history during the past five years.
  • Confirm or deny whether family members have been involved in any terrorist activities.
  • Disclose whether the applicant has ever been removed or deported from any country.

If the new proposal is passed, it could impact millions of people traveling from countries including India, Brazil, Mexico, and China. The regulations would not apply to travelers from countries that the US currently permits visa-free travel, including France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Several individuals and organizations have criticized the new rules as an infringement of the rights of immigrants, as well as citizens of the United States.

Where Can You Get More Information?

The above information is not an exhaustive description of all the proposed changes in the information collection for applicants of US Non-immigration Visas. You may read the entire proposal online and comment by visiting t