The U.S State Department has already started to put into action last years proposal of requiring visa applicants to submit their social media profiles alongside previous email addresses and phone numbers in the now updated application process under Trump’s administration who had called for extreme vetting of imigrants during his campaign and now that he’sin office.
This new requirement could affect up to 15 million would-be travelers to the U.S. “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,” reads the statement from the department to the Associated Press.
This requirement was only reserved to persons of interest for extra scrutiny especially if the travelers(65,000 applicants per-year) were from countries or regions with a high degree of terrorist activities.
This new additional vetting is going to affect a lot of people and the US State Department had estimated 710,000 immigrant visa applications and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants.
The new forms require social media usernames, phone numbers, and emails the applicant shave used for over the past five years alongside their international travel and deportation status. Applicants will also be required to state whether any of their family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
Those found to lie about their social media use could face serious immigration consequences.
Putting up these new obstacles is going to affect the choices for highly-skilled workers who will now have to opt to countries with fewer restrictions like neighboring Canda, New Zealand, Norway, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland. The U.S is already ranked lower in talent attractiveness.
The new requirements won’t be applied to certain diplomatic and official visa applicants.
Civil rights groups have already joined in condemning this new notice. the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) said that there was no evidence that such social media monitoring was effective or fair and that it would cause people to self-censor themselves online.
ACLU continues arguing that the questions would create “an environment ripe for profiling and discrimination.”