Anyone intending to apply for a US visa will now face the additional step of surrendering their social media handles, after it was announced the State Department will require such information before agreeing to proceed. The move is a “vast expansion of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors,” with the options listed ranging from Facebook, to photo platforms such as Instagram and Flickr.
As per the Associated Press, this has been a rule for quite some time. However, it had previously only applied to a certain category of passenger, such as those with links to countries rife with terrorist organizations and activity.
Said to be an attempt to “improve the screening process and confirm the applicants’ identity,” the new enforcement requires applicants to provide details of their own accord for any social media network not listed in the application form. Previous email addresses and phone numbers that have been active in the past five years are also required.
After initially being proposed back in March of last year, the extra security measure has now been introduced, and will be applied to both immigrants and non-immigrants, including anyone traveling to the U.S. for business and/or education. It’s anticipated that some 15 million foreigners will apply for a US visa this year.
The US State Department said:
National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.