State Department to Demand Five Years of Social Media, Email Info in Visa Application

The State Department will now require new visitors 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, ZDNet reported.

According to the tech new outlet, revised application forms for those seeking potential residency, education, work, or a tourist visa will have to supply the data, which is expected to impact roughly 15 million visa applicants who visit the country each year.

According to the Associated Press, the bulk data collection was first proposed in March 2018. The department says the demand will “strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.”

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.

In addition, the new visa requirements now not only ask you if you have personally been involved in terrorism-related activities but your family too, ZDNet added.

A State Department official told The Hill there will be “serious immigration consequences” for those caught lying. This could theoretically include visa withdrawal or refused entry.

Previously, such in-depth demands were only required when risk factors were identified, such as travel to terrorism-linked areas.

“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States,” the department told the AP.

The profiling of applicants to ascertain any risk factors associated with an individual is understandable, but this information needs to be protected, stored properly, and should be deleted if not required, ZDNet notes.

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