Individuals applying for US visas may be required to share any social media profiles, email addresses and phone numbers they’ve used within the past five years.
Reported by Reuters, the new questionnaire for visa applicants, pushed by Trump and his administration, was given the go ahead by the Office of Management and Budget on the 23rd of May despite major opposition from the public during the early phase of the measure.
By these new procedures, consular officials may request fifteen years of personal information, which includes employment history, home addresses, records of travel and of course – their social media data.
While the questions regarding social media are meant to be voluntary, applicants who do not disclose the additional information could face delays or be halted. According to the State Department, the information will only be requested if officials believe it’s “required to confirm identity.” However, in the past, the State Department said the questions would only apply to those who have been “determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”
Over 50 academic groups have criticised this decision in a letter sent to the State Department, stating these new “uncertainties” may cause confusion amongst foreign students and researched which would ultimately discourage them from coming stateside to pursue studies or careers.