United States May Implement Social Media Screening for Visa Applicants

By: Debby Hernandez, Greenheart Exchange Marketing and Outreach Intern

The State Department has just introduced a new regulation that would require United States visa applicants to undergo additional screening to obtain their visa.

This applies to applicants who must complete the online Form DS-160. Applicants will be required to provide usernames for social media accounts, phone numbers, and emails from the last five years. Only 20 social media platforms are under the new regulation, which may include: Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube and several overseas platforms.

Under the State Department’s new regulation, 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants will be affected.

J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program participants who complete form DS-2019 and Visa Waiver Program applicants will not be affected. 40 countries will also remain unaffected by these changes, which are listed at the U.S. Department of State website.

On March 30, the State Department issued a request to the Office of Management and Budget to approve the new screening initiative. However, there is a 60-day public comment period set to end on May 29, prior to deciding whether to approve the social media screening.

According to the State Department, the screening will be used to collect information for identity and “vetting” purposes. Consular officers will not engage with visa applicants via social media.

J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program participants will remain unaffected if the State Department’s new screening regulation goes into effect.

For more information on Greenheart Exchange’s Work and Travel Exchange Program visit our website.