The State Department is now requiring foreign nationals to disclose five years of social media and contact history when applying for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa. New questions about social media use, prior email addresses and prior phone numbers were added late last week to State Department Forms DS-160 and DS-260, the online nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications.
Applicants are now required to:
- Disclose all social media platforms they have used within the previous five years;
- Provide their username(s) for each platform (passwords are not required and should not be provided); and
- List all email addresses and phone numbers used in the previous five years.
Consular officers may use social media information – including professional profiles and public personal information – during the visa adjudication process. Profiles, postings and details that appear inconsistent with the purpose of a visa applicant’s trip, other information in the visa application, or past immigration benefits applications could result in additional security clearances and even visa refusals.
The State Department has used social media information in visa adjudications since mid-2017, but until now foreign nationals were not required to provide this type of information unless they were deemed to pose heightened security concerns. These initiatives derive from President Trump’s 2017 memorandum on “extreme vetting” of applicants for immigration benefits.
Foreign nationals planning to apply for a U.S. visa should:
- Review and gather social media and past contact information before starting a DS-160 or DS-260 visa application.
- Make sure all social media profiles are accurate and up to date.