The State Department plans to require most visa applicants divulge their social media information during the application process, according to notices published in the Federal Register on Friday.
Applicants will have to turn over information about specific government-identified social media platforms, with the option of providing additional handles not specifically listed on the application.
The new visa application questions are expected to affect roughly 14.7 million people — 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants and 710,000 immigrant visa seekers — but may not apply to all categories of visa applicants, the State Department said.
“The Department will collect this information from visa applicants for identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards,” the Federal Register notice stated.
“However, the Department intends not to routinely ask the question of applicants for specific visa classifications, such as most diplomatic and official visa applicants.”
The new visa application questions are in keeping with President Donald Trump’s emphasis on “extreme vetting” of foreigners coming to the U.S.
Trump repeatedly criticized the U.S. visa system for insufficient screening of visa applicants, pointing to terrorist attacks green card holders perpetrated in New York City and San Bernardino, Calif.
The revisions to visa application forms will not go into effect immediately.
People reacted to the news on Twitter.
I know people who refuse to have anything to do with social media. What about those types of people? No social media, no entry?
— Michelle Mitzel (@MichelleMitzel) March 30, 2018
It's a fair point. I wouldn't let #Trump into my country due to his inappropriate social media useage…
US may tie social media to visa applications – https://t.co/qOm8jnrlhn
— Prof. Mcbogwirtell – Testiculi ad Brexitum (@mcbogwirtell) March 31, 2018
Publishing the notices to the Federal Register triggers a 60-day period for public comments before the rules are submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for approval.
If the revisions are approved, visa applicants will also be required to turn over five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and international travel information.
Additionally, they will be asked about any prior immigration violations and if any of their family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
In an unprecedented change, the State Department is proposing to give immigrant visa applicants an electronic pamphlet describing how female genital mutilation is against U.S. law if they’re from countries where the ritual is commonly practiced.
A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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