In a significant move to increase surveillance of those seeking to enter the United States, Washington will require most individuals applying for visas to provide details of their social media handles going back five years. The rule is expected to affect close to 15 million people annually.
Online visa forms that require social media account history became operational at the end of last week and will cover all applicants except those applying for certain official and diplomatic visas.
The rule to expand social media history data collection to all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants was first published by the State Department in April 2018. It was an outcome of President Donald Trump’s desire to put in place a policy of “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the country, a theme articulated during his campaign and via executive orders in 2017.
Earlier, social media information was asked of only certain individuals whose applications required further review. Now the information is required as part of all immigrant (form DS-260) and non-immigrant (form DS-160) online visa applications.
A high volume of Indian applications is likely to be impacted by the new proposal.