Apr 26

Can State Department Require Visa Applicants’ Social Media Accounts?

State Department Wants Social Media, Email Addresses and Phone Numbers

Visa applicants required to provide social mediaRecently, the state department announced that it wants to require some new types of information from those who seek visas to enter the United States. Included in that information is:

  • Social Media Usernames
  • Previous Email Addresses
  • Previous Phone Numbers

The time period for which the information will be required is the past five years.

The purpose of this request is so that agents can track down the online conduct of those who desire to come to the US on a visa. This follows from the President’s desire for enhanced analysis of those entering the United States.

Is This Requirement New?

In the past, social media usernames and prior email addresses and phone numbers were “only sought from applicants identified for extra scrutiny, such as those who have traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.” This included about 65,000 people per year.

If this new requirement passes, all people who apply for a visa will need to provide the requested information, regardless of whether they require extra scrutiny. As such, such requests will become routine, though it is unclear whether the state department would require anything to be done with the information without some specific concerns about an individual.

How Many People Will Be Affected?

The state department believes that this rule would impact 710,000 immigrant visa applicans and14 million non-immigrant visa applicants. Athletes, and business people, such as those Keamy Tavares commonly represents, would not be exempt from the reporting requirement.

Will This Rule Become Active?

Currently, this proposed rule is in what is called a comment period. This is a time when anyone may provide a comment about the rule and make recommendations for changes. The deadline to make comments is May 29, 2018. The entirety of the proposed rule may be found on the Federal Register’s website.

After the deadline, the state department will review comments and create an amended rule as it feels appropriate. Whether any such rule will ever become active is unknown at this point. However, given the current use of social media in enhanced evaluation of some visa applicants, it is likely that some rule involving social media accounts and past email addresses and phone numbers is likely to go into effect.

Need Visa Assistance?

If you need visa assistance, please reach out to Keamy Tavares for help.