Entering the United States may become a bit more intrusive for many in the coming months. If a new federal initiative passes, those seeking a visa to enter the United States will become subject to having their social media channels viewed by immigration officials, an effort previously unheard of during the application process. The US State Department has brought forth new rules that plan to ask all visa applicants to provide any social media handles that the visa applicant has used in the past 5 years. The restriction, if passed, would apply to an estimated 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants each year, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The plan is part of the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to greatly increase the vetting process for visa applicants. The initiative would also ask for prior email addresses and phone numbers, along with international travel status and deportation records, the Associated Press reported.
The new State Department report reads:
“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 […] The Department will collect this information from visa applicants for identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards.”
The idea isn’t set in stone yet, however. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed measure before it can be submitted for final approval by the Office of Management and Budget. Ratifications may happen following the comment period, which begins Friday, March 30.
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