The USA will be requiring all VISA applicants to state all their social media account details in an updated online VISA application form. Added to supplying social media details, US VISA applicants from all over the will also need to supply all the e-mail addresses and phone numbers they have used in the past 5 years.
The move to review USA VISA applicants social media details was proposed last year and implemented only for some applicants. It also wasn't compulsory nor included in the online VISA application form.
"National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," said the US State Department in a statement.
The new online visa application forms list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years. They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.
In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
It's expected that this new measure will affect approximately 14,7 million people annually who travel to the USA. However, some diplomatic and official visa applicants will be excluded from having to submit their social media usernames, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.
Before this new measure was implemented, only those people applying for American VISAs who needed additional vetting - such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups - were required to submit such information. Now, everyone applying for a VISA to the USA has to volunteer their social media details.