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U.S. proposes social media screening for visa applicants

All applicants will have to give social media accounts, IDs, E-mails

ISLAMABAD — Hundreds of thousands of visa applicants would face new proposed conditions to provide their all social media accounts, their IDs, and emails. Reports claimed that the State Department confirmed the that it wanted the public to comment on the proposed new requirements.

According to reports, the State Department is considering making it conditional for most U.S. visa applicants to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses, and phone numbers as part of a Trump administration’s enhanced vetting of potential immigrants and visitors.

Should State Department applied the new conditions it would affect nearly 15 million foreigners including thousands of South Asians who apply for visas to enter the U.S. each year.

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants will be asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

Previously, social media, email and phone number histories were only sought from applicants identified for extra scrutinies, such as those who have traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 people per year are in that category.

The new rules would apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The department estimates it would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education, according to the documents.

According to AP news agency, the documents were posted on the Federal Register’s website on Thursday. If the requirements are approved by the Office of Management and Budget, applications for all visa types would list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

It would also give the applicant the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application.  Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types may be exempted from the requirements.

AP also reported that previously, social media, email and phone number histories were only sought from applicants identified for extra scrutinies, such as those who have traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.  An estimated 65,000 people per year are in that category.

The new rules would apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The department estimates it would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education, according to the documents.

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