NEWSFLASH: US to Carry Out 'EXTREME VETTING' on Visa Applications
The State Department wants to make it mandatory for all U.S. visa applicants to submit social media information, previous email addresses and phone numbers.
In documents due to be filed to the Federal Register today, it asserts a change that will require nearly every individual applying for a US visa to disclose any social media handles used on specific platforms in the past 5 years, as well as phone numbers and email addresses that have been used during the same time period.
This means that the social media channels of applicants could be scoured by officials, to get more of an insight into the credibility of their applications.
In recent years, social media, email and phone number logs were only sought from visa applicants identified for extra checks. That's about 65,000 people annually. The new rules would apply to ALL applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and the State Department estimates this would now in turn affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants.
The following is from an article by The Washington Times:
"The Homeland Security Department had floated plans to track social media of immigrant applicants, but the State Department’s proposal would apply to others coming on temporary visas.
Some 14 million people would be affected by the request for information tied to visitors’ visas, and about 700,000 others would be affected in the immigration system, the department said in the documents.
Don Crocetti, a former senior fraud investigator for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said it makes sense to collect the information but that officers need to stay within privacy rules too.
He said in the immigration context, looking at social media can help an adjudicator assess whether the story the applicant is telling in applying for a benefit rings true — such as in the case of a marriage petition.
But Mr. Crocetti said someone’s refusal to turn over the passwords or other nonpublic social media information can’t be used on its own to deny approval."
Once the intended rule change is filed to the Federal Register today, the public will have 60 days to comment on it.
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