US to conduct tougher visa vetting, including social media checks

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U.S. visa applicants will have to provide social media handles for the last five years and 15 years worth of biographical data following the unveiling of new questionnaire by the Trump administration.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the new questionnaire on May 23 even as it faced criticism by from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.

The OMB granted emergency approval for the new questions for six months, rather than the usual three years.

Critics say that the new questionnaire will be burdensome and will lead to unnecessary delays in visa processing.

Visa applicants will going forward may be required to provide all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.

According to the State Department, officials will request the additional information when they determine “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.”

The Department said that these additional vetting procedures will only apply to those who have been identified as in need of further vetting in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.

President Donald Trump has vowed to increase national security and border protections, proposing to give more money to the military and make Mexico pay to build a wall along the southern U.S. border.

 

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