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New form "requests" United States visa applicants' social media accounts, handles, history
02 June 2017, 05:11 | Clarence Schmidt
US President Donald Trump had vowed to increase border security and national security
The agency added that consular officials visa applicants will have free rein to demand applicants to turn over their information who they believe may "warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities".
It's just another step to make it easier for the administration to block anyone they want from entering the USA - whether they're a true threat to national security or not.
However, the Office of Management and Budget has granted emergency approval for the modified questionnaire only for a period of six months.
Consular officials can also now ask applicants for all prior passport numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, and 15 years of biographical information under the new protocol, making the application process much more burdensome for those looking to enter the United States.
The Trump Administration just rolled out a new set of questions for for US visa applicants, making the process longer and more hard for many. Homeland Security officials in April said they intend to expand the social media screening to citizens of close USA allies, including Britain and Australia, and to instruct more visitors to share their contact lists and other information from their phones.
Although the form says that providing the information is "voluntary" and does not automatically bar the applicant receiving a USA visa, the form does warn that failure to hand over the information may "delay or prevent" the application. The majority of the commenters opposed the new procedures, many of whom thought students' social media presence could face higher scrutiny if they had to provide such information.
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 USA border.
He has tried to implement a temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations that a U.S. appeals court refused to reinstate, calling it discriminatory and setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court.
The questions are technically voluntary, but the form notes that failing to answer could delay or outright prevent the visa's processing.
"The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world", Babak Yousefzadeh, president of the Iranian American Bar Association, told Reuters. Immigration lawyers noted that tracking personal history back so far might open up applicants to innocent mistakes, which could also delay visa processing.
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