To augment its national security the United States has introduced a new immigration rule which requires visa applicants to share their social media activity details from up to five years. The new policy is said to be adopted in order to enhance vetting of foreign nationals, and screen out terrorists and other dangerous people seeking entry in the US.
Prior to this, there still were several personal data required by the US immigration body including financial stability, employment details among others. However, with the newly introduced policy, now the US government will also access personal data shared by the visa applicants through their social media accounts.
The officials from the US government were quoted saying, “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect the US citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.” The immigration authorities have been consistently working to boost the screening process and implementation of the new policy is one such step taken towards strengthening the screening process for visa applicants.
Social Media details required to apply for a US Visa includes details of all the active social networking profiles of the applicant; i.e. links of applicants’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Besides, the visa applicants will have to submit their email addresses and phone numbers that they have been using from five years.
As social media activities represent a digital reflection of what individuals do, how they connect and what ideologies they possess; the US government is set to utilize it to process background check of visa applicants.
Information like photos, locations, date of birth, dates of milestones among several other details will be extracted from the provided links. Activities like postings, likes, re-tweet, and shares will also be scrutinized. Post-assessment if the authorities are assured that the applicant is not a threat to the US security, the visa application will be processed further for approval.
However, the requirement for social media details is not an alien concept for the US visa application process. Earlier, applicants from countries affected with terrorism were required to submit their social media details, but now it is mandatory for all.
The step taken by the US government has raised a question on data privacy and violation of the privacy of the applicants. But, the authorities have given rest to this argument by raising the concern of National Security, which lies above everything.
For candidates who already possess a US Visa will not be affected by the new policy unless they have to renew their visa. For visa renewal, the applicants will have to go through the same process. The said rule will certainly make getting a visa a tedious task and will drastically affect the number of applicants receiving a visa for the United States.