On May 31, 2019, the State Department announced implementation of a policy first announced two years ago to increase its scrutiny of social media activity of visa applicants. Visa applicants will have to provide their “handles” or identifiers for all social media accounts they have signed up for or used, however briefly, in the five previous years.
The policy affects both immigrants coming permanently, and nonimmigrants coming temporarily to the U.S. who must apply for a visa. Exempted for the most part will be nonimmigrants including diplomats or those working for NATO or international organizations such as the United Nations, or visitors entering under the Visa Waiver program. All other nonimmigrants, such as visitors needing to travel with visitor visas, international students, and those coming on temporary professional or seasonal work visas, to name only a few, must provide their social media identifiers. Visa applicants will also be asked for all of their email addresses and telephone numbers used in the previous five years.
As we’ve explained previously, this policy will lead to an increase in visa denials, both of those applying for nonimmigrant visas, and for immigrant visas, including immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Read the different ways that this new rule could cause visa denials in this post.
With visa denials in all categories already at record levels, the administration’s implementation of this new regulation strikes yet another blow against those trying to come to the U.S. legally.