U.S. visa applicants now need to provide social media info
Bahamians will now be required to provide their social media names on most United States visa applications, a U.S. embassy official confirmed yesterday.
“The Department of State has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants,” said U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Penny Rechkemmer.
“This update – which we initially announced last year in the Federal Register – is a result of the president’s March 6, 2017, Memorandum on Implementing Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and other Immigration Benefits and Section 5 of Executive Order 13780 regarding implementing uniform screening and vetting standards for visa applications.”
Previously, only applicants who had been identified as needing extra scrutiny were required to provide social media, email and phone number histories.
According to the Associated Press, the requirement used to affect about 65,000 applicants annually, but it is now expected to affect around 15 million applicants per year.
The change was cited as a means to “strengthen” the vetting process for applicants.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” said Rechkemmer.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.
“We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants. Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.”