The vetting process for a US visa has never been easy but it is about get a lot more arduous with social media checks. US President Donald Trump's administration has rolled a new questionnaire for US visa applicants worldwide that compels selected travellers to hand over social media details from the last five years.
The process is part of a larger effort to tighten any security loops for would-be visitors to the US. The government says there may be potential extremists or even terrorists among the travellers and hence the new step. The proposal, which has been tossed around for a while now, was finally approved by the US Department of State (DoS) to evaluate visa applicants who have been flagged for further review.
Critics however, argue the new questionnaire will not only delay the already burdensome visa process but also target individuals based on their country, religion and community. Although the DoS says the questionnaire will be presented to 0.5 % of US visa applicants worldwide critics believe it fits an undisclosed threat profile.
This means authorities will not have to produce any reason for why they chose to target an individual and asked him/her to fill the additional form. Critics say this is likely a veiled attempt to implement the Trump administration's court-blocked ban on travellers from six Muslim majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The burden of implementation will largely fall mostly on the respective consular offices that can request all prior passport numbers, five years worth of social media handles, email addresses, phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.
While this is mandatory for the targeted travellers it still remains voluntary for most as a supplement form, but not filling the form may result in delays in obtaining a visa.
Check out the questionnaire here.