LONDON – Applying for a US travel visa in the near future? Don’t be surprised if you get asked to provide details of your social media accounts.
President Trump has approved plans that will allow US border officials to legally ask US visa applicants to see their social media history, according to the BBC.
A new questionnaire has been introduced that enables border officials to ask visa applicants for their social media usernames going back five years.
The “Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants” form is expected to take up to 60 minutes to fill out. It also asks people to state everywhere they’ve travelled to and where they’ve worked in the last 15 years, as well as phone numbers and email addresses they’ve used in the last five years.
- US Department for State
The form can be handed out to anyone that needs to undergo “more rigorous national security vetting,” a State Department official told Reuters.
It’s up to the traveller to decide whether they choose to fill in the information but the form says “individuals who […] do not provide all the requested information may be denied a US visa.”
The US Department of State reportedly estimates that the form will only be handed out to 0.5% of visa applicants, according to multiple reports.
This is not the first time that US border officials have asked non-US citizens for details of their social media profiles.
In December 2016, Politico reported that travellers arriving into the US on the visa waiver programme, which enables people to travel to the US for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa, were being given the “option” to enter information associated with their online presence.
However, the new questionnaire applies specifically to visa applicants not using the visa waiver program.