It is now mandatory for almost all visa applicants, including tourists travelling to the US to provide usernames of their social media accounts that they have used during the past five years. Statistics show that over 8.72 lakh Indians got their visas to the US by 30th September, 2018. It is estimated that about 14.7 million people were asked to submit their social medial details.
Emily Neumann, an immigration attorney explains, “The requirement features on E-forms D-160 and D-260 filled by non-immigration and immigration visa applicants and is used at the US consulate offices. The forms have a drop-down menu, requiring applicants to list the username or handle against the social media platforms, which they have used during the five years preceding the application date. However, passwords are not to be provided.”
Drop down menu includes several social media platforms such as Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube. The menu is expected to be further extended. However, the applicants will not have to mention the accounts designed for use by multiple users within a business organization.
Although, the Department of State had published its intention to implement this policy last year in March. But only selected visa applicants were asked to provide details of social media handles until recently.
“Your social media posts eventually could lead you to an additional questioning during visa interview,” say consultants at Visa Expert 24 Immigration Solutions, one of the top 10 immigration consultants in Chandigarh. This process can lead to delays and it increases the power of the consular to deny visas (that could have been already been exempted due to many other problems such as H-4 and L-2 visas etc).
The policy stems from March 2017 presidential order by Donald Trump aiming to put “extreme vetting” of an applicant who is seeking the US visa, say consultants at Visa Expert 24. The State Department published its intention to implement the order in March 2018. The measure is going to affect millions of visa applications every year.