All US Visa applicants could have to disclose social media information

Millions affected The move by the State Department if implemented would affect up to 15 million people each year

Millions affected The move by the State Department if implemented would affect up to 15 million people each year

According to notices submitted by the State Department on Thursday, set for formal publication on Friday, the government plans to require almost all visa applicants to the USA to submit five years of social media handles for specific platforms identified by the government - and with an option to list handles for other platforms not explicitly required.

The Trump administration plans to require immigrants applying to come to the United States to submit five years of social media history, it announced Thursday, setting up a potential scouring of their Twitter and Facebook histories. For the first time, they included social media accounts, as well as prior passport numbers, greater detail about family members, and longer personal history, including travel, employment, and residence for the last 15 years, instead of the last five that applicants were already asked for.

It would also give the applicant the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application.

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The public has 60 days to comment on the requests.

However, the above will not affect citizens from countries which the U.S. grants visa-free travel status.

The US Department of State wants to ask visa applicants to provide details on the social media accounts they've used in the past five years, as well as telephone numbers, email addresses, and global travel during this period.

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The State Department estimates that the new visa forms would affect 710,000 immigrant and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants.

The online form will provide a list of social media platforms - presumably the major ones - and "requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application". However, it intends not to routinely ask the question of applicants for specific visa classifications, such as most diplomatic and official visa applicants, it said. The new rules would apply to nearly all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

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