State Department to request additional social media, personal information

30 Mar 18

UNITED STATES

The State Department has asked for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of a plan to ask nearly all visa applicants for additional social media and personal information. The plan is part of the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” program and follows a move last spring to ask similar questions of a subset of applicants.

Key Points:

  • Under the proposal, which was published Friday in the Federal Register, the State Department would ask immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants for social media identifiers used in the previous five years. The information would only be required for specific social media platforms designated by the State Department, with applicants having the option of providing identifiers for other social media accounts as well. The proposal says that social media identifiers will be requested, but it makes no mention of passwords.
  • The agency also plans to ask applicants to provide more personal information, including any telephone numbers or email addresses used in the past five years. Applicants would also be asked about international travel, whether they have ever been deported or removed from any country and whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
  • The changes would affect nearly all visa applicants, including applicants for permanent residence. Applicants for diplomatic or official visas would be exempt.
  • The public will have 60 days to provide comment before the proposal is submitted to OMB.

BAL Analysis: If the proposal is approved, visa applicants should prepare to provide additional information. The additional screening requirements could result in increased administrative processing delays for applicants and may exacerbate interview appointment backlogs since the requirements may lead to longer interviews. BAL is continuing to monitor the progress of the proposal and will provide updates as additional information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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