Close to 15 million people apply for visas to enter the United States every year. The majority of these, around 14 million, are non-immigrant applicants and around 700,000 seek some form of immigration.
The process of obtaining a visa to the U.S. is already perceived to be a bit tough for applicants from many countries.
But the Trump administration is planning to make it even tougher, at least in terms of the documents and personal information to be submitted along with the application to stand a chance of being granted approval.
A large part of these personal details fall under a certain level of privacy. The proposed requirements relate to the individual’s activities on social media platforms and the details of the phone numbers and emails used by him/her for a period of five years preceding the date of the application.
Complete Information on Person’s History Needed
The reason why the public is receiving the proposals with concerns about privacy is the kind of information to be demanded when a person applies for a visa to travel to the U.S.
One of them is the social media accounts held by the applicant. The format may list a few social media platforms and the applicant will be asked to tick the ones in which he/she is registered, plus the account handle/username.
The form will also require the applicant to voluntarily include, where applicable, the sites not appearing in the list if the applicant is using other platforms.
The new format will also ask applicants to disclose the social media sites on which they held an account going back five years from the date the application is being submitted.
The same rule is applied for telephone numbers and email IDs. For instance, if an applicant was using a phone three years ago but no longer uses it now, it must be mentioned in the form.
Travel Details Also Required
Another requirement for visa applicants will be to disclose the countries visited by the individual in the preceding five years.
Certain details will be required, such as if the person has ever been deported from any country, or if even any family member has been involved in any terrorist activity, and so on.
The application, whether filled in hard copy or filed online, may end up being several pages longer than the current format. As such, it will make the application process much more time consuming.
Only diplomatic applicants are exempt from complying with the proposed requirements regarding social media details.
The new rules can be officially announced once the Office of Management and Budget approves them.
Public Opinion Being Invited
The proposals are seemingly driven by the U.S. government’s anxiety to prevent the entry of people with even the remotest of connections to terrorist organizations. Though this is a security-motivated move, many view that it does threaten the privacy of the applicants.
There is a 60-day window provided for these opinions to be recorded on the site or sent via the appropriate email to the department.
rThe revised rules and additional documents required under them will then be notified and made mandatory if approved.