New Requirement for U.S. Visa: Social Media Records

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Anyone who has applied for a U.S. visa before at the U.S. Consulate already knows how stringent the requirements are. Now, it gets tougher.

Starting from this month, the U.S. Department of State requires visa applicants to disclose five years of social media and contact history when applying for a U.S. visa. The Department of Homeland Security has long used social media to screen immigrants and Americans and expanded this practice since 2015, and the U.S. Department of State has used social media information in visa adjudications since 2017. These heightened security initiatives derive from President Trump’s “extreme vetting” policy towards applicants for immigration benefits.

The essential Forms (DS-160 and DS-260) for immigrant and non-immigrant visas just added new sets of questions about social media uses, prior email addresses, and phone numbers. In addition to details regarding family members, travel and work histories, proof of financial capability, years of addresses, many sets of security and background questions, applicants are now required to:

  • Disclose the social media platforms they have used within the past five years;

  • Provide their username(s) for each platform (passwords are not required); and

  • List additional email addresses and phone numbers used in the past five years.

What does this mean for visa applicants?

Now, when adjudicating the visa application, consular officers may use this social media information including profiles and postings to assess the purpose of the applicant's trip, the information provided in the application, and past travel records. Inconsistencies may result in additional security clearances and even visa denials.

If you are looking to apply for an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate, you should:

  • Gather all social media and contact information for the past five years before starting the DS-160 or DS-260 forms.

  • Review and make sure your social media information is accurate, consistent and up to date.

  • When completing the forms, please make sure to answer each question to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t remember or cannot recall details, you may answer “unknown” but should prepare for additional questioning at the visa interview.

This article is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the Troglia Kaplan, LLC.

Olivia ShanksComment