Trump Administration Launches tough new Social Media Vetting for U.S. Visa Applicants*
By Matthew Hughes
For the majority of people who visit the United States, applying for a visa is a routine task of filling in the boxes. But for those applicants who have been flagged for further review, it’s going to get a lot more difficult.
The Trump administration just rolled out a tough new visa questionnaire which, among other things, asks applicants for their social media information, as well as every email address they’ve had for the past five years.
The questionnaire, Form DS-5535, was approved after two weeks of public comment, and will be presented to the 0.5% of travelers selected for further scrutiny.
Officials will request the additional information when they believe “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” a State Department official told Reuters on Wednesday.
Form DS-5535 asks for the following information:
- Every social media handle used during the past five years.
- Phone numbers and email addresses used over the past five years
- Fifteen years of travel history, with detail on the source of funding for the travel.
- Fifteen years of address history
- Fifteen years of employment history
- Details on all passport numbers held, along with country of issuance
- Names and dates of birth for all siblings
- Names and dates of birth for all children
- Names and dates of births of all current and former spouses, civil, or domestic partners.
The form is already circulating through official channels, and can be downloaded from the website of the US Embassy and Consulate in Turkey. It notes that it expires on November 30, 2017, and should take about an hour to complete.
While the form is voluntary, those who fail to complete it are likely to experience delays with their visa application, or have it denied entirely.
Proponents of the changes argue that it is a necessary step in order to protect Americans, others argue that it will trip up innocent travelers, who will struggle to remember every single login they’ve created, and every single international trip they’ve taken.
Asking for more information will also inevitably increase the administrative overhead, and will likely result in increased delays to visa applications.