US Visa Applicants worldwide would now be asked for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.
The new questionnaire is part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the US, was approved on May 23 by the office of management and budget in spite of criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.
Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.
Officials will request the additional information when they determine “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” a state department official said on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump had tried to implement a temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations that a US appeals court refused to reinstate, calling it discriminatory and setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court.
The office of management and budget granted emergency approval for the new questions for six months, rather than the usual three years.
While the new questions are voluntary, the form says failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application.
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