In an attempt to enhance vetting of foreign nationals, the US State Department now requires visa applicants to submit their social media details of five years. The applicants have to submit social media usernames, telephone numbers, and previous email addresses.

The rule to add social media data collection for immigrants and non-immigrants was first issued in April 2018. This was a result of the Trump government’s effort to improve screening of potential immigrants and visitors.

This move is expected to affect close to 15 million people annually. This will cover all applicants except those applying for certain official and diplomatic visas.

Earlier, social media details were only asked for individuals whose applications required further scrutiny. However, now it is required for all immigrant (form DS-260) and non-immigrant (form DS-160) online visa applications.

Applicants also have the option of stating that they don’t use social media but any form of misguidance can attract serious consequences.

At present, the drop-down menu in the online visa application has options for major social media platforms but soon other social media site will be listed.

Aneri Shroff