Applicants for a US Visa Now Required to Share Details of Their Social Media Pages, Including Instagram and Flickr

Applicants for a US Visa Now Required to Share Details of Their Social Media Pages, Including Instagram and Flickr

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.

Lead image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

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38 Comments

Scott Hussey's picture

And this is about photography/videography, how?

Scott Hussey's picture

Seriously, we can (and do) get this kind of news anywhere and everywhere. We come here for information related to our specific industry... and this ain't that.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Background info: Although international tourism to the US rose slightly, it bit only Turkey since 2015 (Turkey is -3% and the US is +0.5). Tourism to the US is suffering due to a few reasons however, U.S. policy and rhetoric are two of the main reasons.

Many of those potential tourists are photographers. Since photographers are known to use many social media platform for their work (or hobby) those could be potentially important news.

First phones being searched and now social media. More people, as well as photographers, might rethink their visit to the US.

Scott Hussey's picture

Every profession uses social media.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Then people will license my photos of the US as there will be less tourist photographers. Works out for me hahaha.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Might not work for you in the long run...

Dan Howell's picture

Photographers frequently travel internationally to create photos. Whether it is on assignment or for stock photography, photographers generally try to skirt the regulations regarding tourist or work visas. The new regulations will make it more difficult or risky for a professional photographer from other countries to claim they are traveling on vacation while carrying any kind of equipment.

This regulation will likely be reciprocated by many other countries in the future for US photographers traveling abroad. This has been informally in effect for models traveling to the US for the past couple of years.

How many more dots do we need to connect for you?

Dan Howell's picture

First, I NEVER ship cameras. It is an unacceptable risk. But thanks for playing.

Secondly, do you imagine I am unfamiliar with this practice? I ship lighting equipment domestically as a regular practice. I wouldn't consider doing it internationally.

Third, in addition to the cost of international shipping (which can be as much or more than the cost of a flight) depending on which country you are traveling to, packages have to be declared and duty paid which can be as much as 50% of the value. To avoid that you have to prove you own it which puts you in contact with authorities with your ID. That puts you in the same situation as flying with equipment, so what have you gained? Certainly not convenience, cost or security.

A more professional suggestion would be to rent on location, but regardless, your suggestion doesn't address the issue of the article.

Rob Davis's picture

It’s related to digital rights, security, and 1st amendment protections for artists and journalists. Until very recently, anyone on US soil regardless of nationality, generally had Constitutional protections. That is no longer the case in the US.

Fstoppers has a global audience and its newsworthy what level of privacy they will now have to forfeit to visit, study, and work in the US.

Ryan Davis's picture

You may think this is a good idea or not, but requiring this in no way violates anyone's constitutional rights. These are people applying for a visa to enter the US, and the US can impose whatever conditions it likes on who it decides to let in or not. The same thing with extending citizenship.

I still think that, much like the "wall" it's meaningless and won't actually do what it purports to do. Nevertheless, just because something's dumb doesn't mean it is illegal.

Rayann Elzein's picture

But just because something's dumb, I can decide to boycott travelling to this country. It's not illegal and there are enough other beautiful places on earth to enjoy nature and photography.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Boycott traveling to the US? Like they care or it will do anything to change the law?

Rayann Elzein's picture

I don't care, it's a free world isn't it? They seem not to want foreigners in their country, why the hell should I bother and try to travel there? It was enough being nearly stripped searched in front of everyone prior to boarding a flight to Atlanta, where I would just be in transit for 2 hours, so I really, really don't need the grief again.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Then stay at home. I've never had that happen to me. You probably look suspicious or maybe they have seen your social networks already.

Rayann Elzein's picture

I know I look suspicious. I have a beard and a middle eastern name. I don't need to be arbitrarily detained somewhere when I just want to go take pictures. That's why I skipped the solar eclipse.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Are the locks on your front door meaningless?

Rob Davis's picture

I didn’t say it was illegal. I said it was newsworthy to photographers.

Jacques Cornell's picture

The article indicates that applicants are asked for their "handles", not their passwords. Given that social media postings are public information, this doesn't seem like an intrusion into privacy.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Exactly. This article is not photo related at all.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

And it will be hard to make any link to a real person life.
Social media are so far from individual reality. It's a show where every face and picture is photoshoped/staged to fit the media purpose. ;-)

dale clark's picture

However, with some recent mass shootings in the US, one could find red flags on the shooters social media pages ( after the fact). Same with some international terrorism incidents.

Every HR department reviews applicant’s social media pages ( or hires firms who do such). Employers would be nuts not to do such. Same with allowing people in and out your country.

If you are one that leaves your doors unlocked 24/7, doesn’t do background checks for nannies of your children, then I give you credit for at least being consistent. However, if you do lock your doors and check the backgrounds of your children’s caregivers... then you are being quite hypocritical.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

Well, most of people killed by guns in the USA were not by new visa applicant, but by American residents. Most of them did not died in a mass shooting. Firearms were used to kill 13,286 people in the U.S. in 2015, excluding suicide for example.
How many mass shooting from new visa applicant publishing their terrorism allegiance on Facbook on these? 0.1%?

Good to take care of the minority of possible terrorism when there is already so much killing within the country without any link to terrorism.

dale clark's picture

I think you are missing my point. I'm not saying technology could have stopped any of those disasters from happening. However, if the tools are there to help improve security, they should be used. As technology and times change, the things around it does as well. Traveling by airplane has changed quite a bit post 9/11. Now everyday people, landlords, etc can do background checks on potential employees, clients, etc right on their computer instead of having a service perform such that could take weeks. Why shouldn't international borders do the same? There are ways for regular US travelers to bypass long international gateway wait times and long screenings (global entry cards, TSA prescreen, etc).

Jeff McCollough's picture

I teach some classes online and I was required to go get a background check. It's part of life now.

Spy Black's picture

You sound suspicious to us. Please post all your email and social media passwords here for us so we can examine your posts and make sure you're not a terrorist posing as a concerned American...

Mark Harris's picture

Seems like it would be rather easy to get away with not declaring your platforms. Unless you're a pro photographer with a well googleable presence where you display some landscape images from your last Arizona vacation, and then they say 'so you were actually working on that vacation visa ?'.

Jeff McCollough's picture

You are now required to provide that info.

Jan Kruize's picture

Looks like i'm not welcome there..... idon't care :-)

Jeff McCollough's picture

Why? Do you post anti American propaganda on your social media?

Rob Mitchell's picture

They can see it anyway, No idea what the issue is.
Appart from being ridiculous.

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