Department of State Publishes Notice of Increased Information Requests During Visa Application Process
On May 4, 2017 the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published in the Federal Register a notice of information collection which seeks to allow consular officers to request additional information from certain visa applicants based on terrorism or national security concerns. This notice of information collection, which was filed under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) emergency review process, seeks to implement the directive of the President to implement additional protocols and procedures focused on “ensur[ing] the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability, or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.” The proposal serves as notification to the public of the DOS’ desire to request the following additional information from certain visa applicants in order to “more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities”:
- Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
- Address history during the last fifteen years;
- Employment history during the last fifteen years;
- All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
- Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
- Name and dates of birth for all children;
- Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
- Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
- Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.
Much of this information is already collected on the DS-160 and DS-230 visa applications, but has normally been limited to a period of up to five years. Requests for the names and dates of birth of siblings and children are new, as is the request for social media identifiers and handles. Under the travel history section, applicants may be required to provide additional details of their international or domestic (within their country of nationality) travel, if it appears to the consular officer that the applicant has traveled to an area under the operational control of a terrorist organization.
After the 14-day comment period ends on May 18, 2017, the DOS is required to review and consider all comments prior to implementing the new information collection protocols at U.S. consular posts worldwide. As always, Foster will continue to monitor these proposed changes to the consular visa application process and will provide additional information in future Immigration Updates© and on our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.