Washington: Getting to the United States Of America may become more cumbersome for everyone, as the US government is planning to expand the scope of background checks conducted for every US Visa application. Oops!
The US State Department wants future visitors to the United States to submit five years of social media history, looking at a potential scouring of their Twitter and Facebook histories, among other things.
This move is in line with the current US Government’s rhetoric on immigration and ensuring “extreme vetting” against people trying to enter the United States. Notices were formally submitted on Friday to make this move official, asking nearly all visa applicants to the US to submit five years of social media handles for specific platforms identified by the US government.
We could be seeing changes to the US visa application process soon, asking applicants to list down their social media accounts for further scrutiny.
This news has been coming for some time now, and shouldn’t be a complete surprise for anyone, because of US President Trump’s harsh stand on immigration and bringing back jobs back to America (anti-H1 B visa stand).Back in February 2017, we had reported that US embassies could ask visa applicants for passwords to their own social media accounts. The then Department Of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had said, “We’re looking at some enhanced or some additional screening. We may want to get on their social media, with passwords.”
This change won’t take into effect anytime soon, not at least for the next 60 days — when the US public and different stakeholders will debate on the issue — before it’s passed as law. It’ll be interesting to see how this move goes down with privacy and civil liberties advocacy groups in the US, who are expected to oppose this new visa application tweak.