New Social Media Question on U.S. Visa Applications
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has updated its DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application and DS-260 immigrant visa application to include a question on social media identifiers. The item requires applicants to use a drop-down list to indicate the social media platforms they have used during the five years preceding their visa application, and the username, handle, screen-name or other identifiers associated with each account. The DOS is not requesting passwords and has confirmed it will only review information that users have allowed to be viewable to the public. The new question is applicable only to visa application forms completed on or after May 31, 2019.
The DOS indicates that additional revisions to the forms are forthcoming, including:
- An optional free-text field for applicants to provide identifiers associated with any other social media platforms during the five years preceding the date of application, other than those platforms listed on the drop-down list.
- Five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel;
- All prior immigration violations; and
- Whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
This update is a result of the President’s March 6, 2017, Memorandum on Implementing Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and other Immigration Beneﬁts and Executive Order 13780 regarding implementing uniform screening and vetting standards for visa applications. As for the rationale for needing social media identifiers, the DOS notes that national security is its top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. The additional screening questions are part of the process meant to improve the screening of immigrants and nonimmigrants to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.