If you’re planning to visit the United States of America, you’ll need to apply for a Visa which can be valid for up to 10 years. For those applying for one, it is now required that you declare your social media presence.
The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) form now comes with a new section for Social Media. According to the description, you will need to list the social platforms you’ve used in the last five years. The drop-down list covers a variety of platforms which include Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Weibo, Twitter and even YouTube.
If you have multiple accounts, you can hit the “Add Another” button for additional fields. Do note that it only requires the username and not your password.
According to the BBC, the social media screening requirement was proposed by Trump’s administration in March 2018. It is estimated that this new move will affect 14.7 million people annually but this will be exempted for certain diplomatic and official visa applicants.
The US State Department was reported to have said: “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.” Prior to this, only people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups are required to hand over this data.
It was also reported that applicants will have the option to say that they do not use social media if that’s the case. However, those that lie about their social media use may face serious immigration consequences.
A US Department of State official told Hill.TV that “As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil.”