U.S. to Check Visa Applicants' Social Media Activity

  • By Cho Yi-jun

    May 08, 2017 11:54

    The U.S. State Department last Thursday posted revised visa rules that will make it possible to check visa applicants' social media accounts and e-mail in a move toward the "extreme vetting" threatened by President Donald Trump.

    The revised rules will apply "to vet for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities." It estimates that "0.5 percent of U.S. visa applicants worldwide, or in the range of 65,000 individuals per annum, will present a threat profile."

    The new rules will apply regardless of nationality. They allow consulates to request "all passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant... social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and phone numbers and e-mail addresses used during the last five years." Applicants will not have to give their passwords.

    The revised rules also require applicants to submit addresses, travel records, and sources of travel funds during the last 15 years, as well as the names and birthdays of their spouses, children, and siblings.

    The White House Office of Management and Budget has yet to determine whether to approve the revised rules, which the State Department wants by May 18. It would only be valid for 180 days.

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