Continuing its hard-line approach against the existing visa rules, the Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for US visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.
The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.
Critics argue that the new questions will be burdensome and will lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.
With the new procedures getting a nod by the Trump administration, the consular officials can ask for all prior passport numbers, details of social media handles for the last five years, email addresses, phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.
“Officials will request for the additional information when they determine that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” Reuters quoted a State Department official as saying.
The State Department said earlier the tighter vetting would apply to visa applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”
President Donald Trump has vowed to increase national security and border protections, proposing to give more money to the military and make Mexico pay to build a wall along the southern US border.
While the new questions are voluntary, the form says failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application.