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The United States has amended visa application to include information on “social media identifiers,” from almost all applicants. Only persons applying for certain diplomatic and official visa classes are spared from the additional conditions, part of a broad expansion of President Donald Trump administration’s intensified screening.

The new visa application forms list many social media platforms and require the applicant to produce all account usernames they may have used over the previous five years. Applicants are also given the opportunity to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.

Besides providing social media history, persons applying for visas are now required to provide information for five years of previously used email addresses, telephone numbers, international travel and deportation status; and to declare whether any of their siblings have been linked to terrorist actions.

United States immigration policy considered “intrusive changes” includes five US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changes to policy updates will affect Caribbean residents seeking a visa.

Telephone number, email and social media histories had only been necessary from previous applicants who were singled out for extra scrutiny, such as applicants who had travelled to regions ran by terrorist groups. Approximately 65,000 applicants annually fall into that category.

“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” US State Department communique said. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect United States citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the US.”

The update, which was recommended in March 2018, is more than likely to affect approximately 15 million applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas annually.

According to the US State Department, accumulating the extra data from more applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.”

Source: Caribbean News Now


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