Social media identifiers now required for US visa applicants
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - June 16, 2019 - 12:00am

On May 31, 2019, the US Department of State instituted a change in its immigrant and non-immigrant visa application forms requesting additional information including social media identifiers.

This change is in response to a presidential memorandum regarding implementing uniform screening and vetting standards for visa applicants. As the Department of State put it, “national security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the US undergoes extensive security screening.”

As it stands now, the applicant is asked of the various social media platforms and online names he used for the past five years.

In addition, the applicant is also required to list previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, travels abroad, deportation status, and whether any family members were involved in terrorist activities.

These requirements are not entirely new. This was started during the Obama administration and has been expanded under Mr. Trump. However, the question remains; is this policy effective in preventing terrorists from entering the US? With all fake accounts, duplicate names, and dubious profiles proliferating in social media, I do not see it having a huge positive effect as far as screening the identity of an applicant is concerned. Anyone can just steal the photo of a person, create an account using the person's name, and spew some nasty stuff, and make it appear it was that person saying those things.

So let's see how this policy can be implemented. We are also hoping that whatever information the government has gathered will be secured and protected.

This column is not a substitute for professional legal advice obtained from a US licensed immigration attorney.

The information contained herein does not constitute a warranty or guarantee or legal advice regarding a reader’s specific immigration case. No attorney-client relationship is and shall be established with any reader.

For any questions, comments and observations, please contact Atty. Marco Tomakin at mtomakin@gmail.com

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