The New Social Media Checks for US Visa Applicants
If you have plans to apply for a U.S. visa in the near future, get ready to provide information on your social media accounts. The Trump administration is taking all possible steps to tighten visa rules. Now, the administration has unveiled a questionnaire that asks visa applicants for information on their social media accounts.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved new measures that require visa applicants to provide their biographical information for the last 15 years. OMB’s approval for the new questionnaire will last for six months. If renewed through subsequent law or policy, the approval would last even longer.
Visa applicants must now provide all the requested information on their old passports, social media accounts, phone numbers, email addresses, travel and employment history required by the consular officials. Citizens of most countries must fill out the questionnaire, Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants, that requests their old email ids and information on their social media accounts.
Some questions in this questionnaire will be similar to the questions in the visa applications. Even if they have already provided answers to those questions in their visa applications, applicants must still complete the questionnaire.
Following are few details that Form DS-5535 will ask visa applicants for.
- Travel, address and employment histories for the past 15 years.
- Information on all passports the applicants had held and the country of issuance.
- Names and dates of birth of their siblings, children, current and former spouses.
- Social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses they used during the past five years.
Will Cox, the spokesman of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, says that consular officers will ask visa applicants to fill out that form only when they believe more information is necessary and not all applicants will be asked to fill out this form. Critics say that the new questionnaire may prevent many foreigners from applying for U.S. visas. Likewise, this step could also delay the application processing.
The changes would impact all nonimmigrant visa applicants to the United States — an estimated 14 million individuals, according to the department. It would also impact an estimated 710,000 immigrant visa applicants.
According to the department, the applications for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas would be updated to include a question that lists several social media platforms and asks applicants to provide “any identifiers” they used for the platforms in the five years preceding the application date.