The US State Department will now require new visitors, visa applicants and prospective immigrants to the United States to hand over their social media account names as well as email addresses and phone numbers used over the past five years.
Earlier last year, the government posted 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Application for Nonimmigrant Visa
The Department also is revising the collection to add several additional questions for nonimmigrant visa applicants. One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms.
According a State Department statement,
“We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants, We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
In March 2017, President Trump asked the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security and the director of national intelligence to put in effect “a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures,” according to a memo published in the Federal Register. Requiring information about the social media accounts of visa applicants was part of that.
Unless you are exempt due to diplomatic or official reasons, you will need to supply five years’ worth of social media and email account history, as well as past international travel information.
The forms will list the most popular social networking platforms — likely including Facebook and Twitter, among others — and will also invite applicants to list any other platforms and accounts not included on the paperwork.