The Trump administration instituted a new policy last month that requires visa applicants to provide as part of their application their social media profiles and handles from the previous five years. Amazingly enough, the State Department had not previously asked for this important information on which to vet applicants.
In addition to requesting five years’ worth of social media profiles, consular officers handling visa applications can also ask applicants for 15 years of biographical information, including more detail about their family members, information about their travel, employment, and residence, and past passport numbers.
Officials previously requested five years’ worth of such information.
This new rule will apply to the approximately 0.5% of visa applicants who warrant increased scrutiny due to terrorism or related national security issues. With social media often being the breeding ground for terrorism-related propaganda and recruiting, this move by the Trump administration could be seen as an early phase of their plan to implement “extreme vetting” of newcomers to the country.
According to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congress had “begged” the Obama administration to include social media vetting of visa applicants, but their requests were denied.