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U.S. Visa Applicants Must Now Provide Social Media Account Information

5 Jun

Beginning Friday, May 31, 2019, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) requires all nonimmigrant visa applicants to provide information for all social media accounts used within the five years preceding application at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. 

Foster previously reported the DOS’s publishing on May 4, 2017, in the Federal Register a notice to “more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities” and their intention to collect social media platforms and identifiers, also known as usernames or handles, used during the last five years, in addition to other information. In a recent statement contained in a New York Times article on this topic, the DOS stated that this new requirement is part of “mechanisms…to protect U.S. citizens,” in line with this notice and implemented policy.

Impact of Request for Social Media Account Information
 
Social media information, specifically “Social Media Provider/Platform” and “Social Media Identifier,” is being collected by the U.S. Department of State when the visa applicant completes the Form DS-160 Online Consular Visa Application with their biographic, travel, and security information, in advance of the foreign national appearing at the consular post for a visa interview.  Depending on the social media platform and security settings of each social media account, the DOS may have access to the visa applicant’s status updates, friends/connections, photographs, locations, dates of birth, educational and work history, and other personal data shared on social media.  However, the DOS specifically requests that passwords not be provided and excludes from this request social media accounts designed for use by multiple users within a business or other organization. 

Specific Request on the Form DS-160
 
The following options are provided for “Social Media Provider Platform”:

    1. Ask FM
    2. Douban
    3. Facebook
    4. Flickr
    5. Google+
    6. Instagram
    7. LinkedIn
    8. Myspace
    9. Pinterest
    10. Qzone (QQ)
    11. Reddit
    12. Sina Weibo
    13. Tencent Weibo
    14. Tumblr
    15. Twitter
    16. Twoo
    17. Vine
    18. Vkontakte (VK)
    19. Youku
    20. YouTube
    21. None

“None” may be selected if the applicant has not used any of the above listed social media accounts within the five years prior to visa application.
 
Unless “None” is selected, the visa applicant must then provide their “Social Media Identifier,” which is the username or “handle” associated with the account.  These responses must be provided for every social media account by clicking “Add Another.”  If an applicant has multiple usernames or handles for a single social media platform, then a separate response for each username or handle must be provided by clicking “Add Another.”
 
Future Updates
 
Foster will continue to monitor changes to nonimmigrant visa requirements and procedures at U.S. consular posts abroad and provide updates in future Immigration Updates© and on our website at https://www.fosterglobal.com.