Applicants for US visitor, student, and work-related nonimmigrant visas, as well as family-based and employment-based immigrant visas (“green cards”), now have to provide information about the social media platforms used over the preceding 5-year period. The updated visa application forms seek information about the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Applicants also have the opportunity to provide information about social media platforms not listed in the drop-down menus. For each platform, applicants must provide all of their usernames or handles, email addresses, and phone numbers used during the 5-year period. Passwords to any of the accounts are not required. Diplomats are exempt from this requirement.
While asking for social media information from visa applicants is relatively new under the current administration, it was limited to applicants identified as those requiring additional scrutiny. Looking at the countries visited by applicants, among other things, resulted in 65,000 social media screenings per year. This new blanket requirement will affect over 700,000 immigrant visa applicants and over 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants each year. Organizations that promote civil liberties are concerned that this could lead to self-censorship and unfair profiling of applicants.
As with any visa application, lying can result in denial of the application, and can lead to being barred from the United States. It is important for visa applicants to answer these additional questions truthfully and accurately.