Feds propose heightened social media vetting of visa applicants

  • Feds propose heightened social media vetting of visa applicants

Feds propose heightened social media vetting of visa applicants

The department asks permission for a 180 days trial period from the White House budget office, beginning May 18.

The US State Department has submitted plans to demand asylum seekers and immigrants applying for visas hand over five years worth of social media handles.

The state department document also said: "The collection of social media platforms and identifiers will not be used to deny visas based on applicants' race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, political views, gender, or sexual orientation".

Since a year ago, immigration officials have sought social media information from some foreigners arriving at United States border checkpoints, but that information had not previously been required on visa applications. But those checks would be limited to public postings, raising questions about the effectiveness.

When people apply for a visa, they also could be asked for employment and travel history and former addresses covering the past 15 years, as well as names and birth dates of siblings, children, and current and former spouses or partners, plus phone numbers and email addresses. Applicants would not be required to provide their passwords - all the better, because if they're trying to keep 15 years of biographical information in their heads on top of all the other shit, they'll probably forget their passwords anyway out of stress, fear or both.

The notice says that the information is being requested "in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities".

Thursday's public notice is the first announcement linked to the so-called "extreme vetting" procedures Trump has advocated. They also noted that the extra scrutiny might end up barring people who make innocent mistakes in their applications or simply can't remember their previous details from entering the country.

The changes proposed in the notice is now open for public comment from interested individuals and organizations before it gets approved or denied by the Office of Management and Budget.

Immigration lawyers and experts, however, have questioned the effectiveness of such enhanced screening measures to identify potential terrorists.

It was under Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama, that the agency in December began collecting social media identifiers from travelers arriving on a different visa program.

Not supplying handles "will not necessarily result in visa denial", but applicants must provide a "credible explanation" for not revealing the info or risk having their visa denied.

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson first introduced similar measures in a March cable to American consular officers that outlined questions officers should now ask in order to tighten vetting of U.S. visa applicants. "It's going to cause operations at a lot of consulates slow to a crawl".