Tighter Visa Rule, US Wants last 15 Years Details of Social Media

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The US President Trump’s administration has come up with another feedback form for US visa applicants worldwide, which asks for social networking handles throughout the last five years and biographical information withdrawing of 15 years. Despite criticism from several education officials and academic groups during a public comment period, the Office of Management and Budget approved it on May 23, which may dishearten students from coming to America as it may promote long delay processing.

The critics stressed that the new questions would be excessively troublesome, which will lead the long delays in processing and also discourage international and students and scientists from coming to the US. In the new procedures, the consular officials can ask all the prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, phone numbers, email address and 15 years of biographical information, including employment, addresses, and travel history. A State Department official said on Wednesday “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting” only when the officials asks for the additional information. “Who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities,” earlier said the State Department while confirming that the tighter selection would be applied to visa applicants.

The US President Donald Trump has promised to increase national security and border safety, offering to provide more money to the military and make Mexico pay to build a wall along with the Southern US border. Trump even tried to implement a ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, but that was refused by the US appeals to restore, saying it a discriminatory act and setting the point for a face-off in the Supreme Court. The emergency approval has been asked by the Office of Management and Budget for the new questions for six months, which usually takes three years. While the new questions are controlled, the form also says that the failure to provide the information may also lead to stop or slow the processing of an individual visa application.

As per the immigration lawyers and advocates, the demand of 15 years of detailed biographical information as well as expecting the applicants to remember all the social networking handles information, would create issues for the applicants as many of the applicants must have done innocent mistakes or didn’t remember all the required information. A San Francisco-based Attorney and president of the Iranian America Bar Association Babak Yousefzadeh says that the new inquiries grant “arbitrary power” to diplomatic officials to decide who gets a visa with no effective check as per their choices. “The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world. The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear,” Yousefzadeh added.

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