The State Department has updated immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms and that visa applicants share their social media accounts and “social identifiers” including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have used during the previous five years, as well as any social platforms not included in the form. Originally proposed in March 2019, the new requirement went into effect in May 2019.
The department says collecting the additional information from more applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” reports CBS News.
Social media, email and phone number histories had been required from applicants who traveled through terrorist territories. USCIS visa applicants are now 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. USCIS estimated the new requirement will affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education.
The only visas applicants exempted from this requirement are certain diplomatic and official visas.
Chicago immigration lawyer Mario Godoy is concerned how this information might be used by the State Department:
“Immigrants have every reason to fear that information they share about their social media history could hurt their opportunity to move to the United States. A simple error of not listing a long-forgotten social media account could ban them from obtaining a US visa – I’m sure most of us can’t remember every social media account we have. This will undisputedly slow down the visa application process and impact the many people who want to come to the US on business, for school or to live.”
Mario Godoy and the attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for immigrant rights and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 855-554-6369.