US to demand visa applicants turn over social media history

US to demand visa applicants turn over social media history
Credit: Nicole Gray

The Trump administration wants to extend its practice of “extreme vetting” to everyone seeking a non-immigrant visa. Instead of specifically discriminating against people traveling from countries it’s declared tied to terrorism, it’ll instead utilize a more evenly distributed form of discrimination against non-Americans.

According to documents set to publish in The Federal Register, if you want to come to the US on a non-immigrant visa you’ll have to answer questions about your family’s involvement in terrorist activities. And you will also be required to provide your social media handles, email addresses, and phone numbers going back five years.

Opponents of this move cite the privacy implications — some people might be inclined to think it’s none of the US government’s business what social media accounts they use in private. Advocates, meanwhile, cite the need for increased national security at any cost.

If there were any evidence to support “extreme vetting” worked, perhaps the Trump administration would consider applying the same rigor to background checks performed on US citizens before allowing them to  purchase firearms.

Fortunately the paperwork isn’t final. The document was filed ahead of publication, and beginning Friday March 30it enters a 60 day commentary period. Citizens are encouraged to comment on the document during this time, and we truly hope you take advantage of that opportunity.

If you want to let the government know exactly how you feel about its proposal, according to the document, there are two ways you can make yourself heard. You can go to this website, search for “Docket Number: DOS-2018-0002” and then click “Comment Now,” or you can email your comments to PRA_BurdenComments@state.gov.

If you choose to send an email you’ll need to make sure you include the following information:

  • Title of Information Collection: Application for Nonimmigrant Visa
  • OMB Control Number: 1405-0182
  • Form Number: DS-160 and DS-156

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