US to seek details of all social media activity from visa applicants

Move would lead to expansion of information gathered from applicants for visas to US

Anyone seeking a visa to enter the United States could be asked to provide details of all their social media identities spanning a five-year period under proposals being developed by the State Department.

If the move gets the green light it would lead to an expansion of information gathered from applicants for US visas.

The proposal, which must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would require most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to list on a federal application form all social media identities used in the past five years.

The information would then be deployed to vet and identify them, according to the proposals, which would affect about 14.7 million people annually.


Previously, under rules instituted in May 2017, consular officials were instructed to collect social media identifiers only when they determined “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting”, a State Department official said at the time.

Additional security

The department said then that the tighter vetting would apply only to those “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities”.

The new proposal was published in the Federal Register on Friday. The public has 60 days to comment on the revised procedures before the OMB approves or rejects them.

The proposals support US president Donald Trump’s promise to institute “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the United states in order to prevent terrorism.

If approved the measures would also require applicants to submit five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and international travel history. They would be asked if they have been deported or removed from any country and whether family members have been involved in terrorist activities, said the department.

The department said it would not routinely ask most diplomatic and official visa applicants for the additional information.