US Visa Applicants Now Required to Disclose Social Media Accounts
On Friday, we noticed a new question pop up on the standard US visa application form, the DS-160, requesting the applicant to disclose all social media platforms used within the past five years, along with usernames/handles. The requirement to provide this data previously only applied to applicants flagged for additional vetting. Now, it will affect the roughly 15 million applicants for US visas per year.
What Will the Consulate/Embassy Do with the Data?
The data will feed into the extensive security background check that the Consulate/Embassy completes before issuing any US visa with the help of various US security agencies working in the background.
Why Are They Asking for this Information?
A US Department of State official told The Hill: "“This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States. As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil."
Must I Provide This Information?
Yes. The official noted that if a visa applicant lies about social media use that they could face "serious immigration consequences" as a result. There is a category of permanent inadmissibility for making a material misrepresentation on a visa application.
Where Did This Change Come From?
President Trump issued an Executive Order in 2017 titled, ""Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States." Section 4 of the Order directed the Secretary of State and other officials to improve vetting of applicants for visas and other immigration benefits "to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm," including "criminal or terrorist acts."