Trump orders U.S. visa applicants to provide social media details

United States President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday unveiled a new questionnaire for visa applicants, which asks for their biographical information over the last 15 years, as well as their social media handles, reported Reuters.

Critics of the proposal have argued that the new questionnaire would be burdensome for the applicants, lead to delays in processing visas, and discourage worldwide students and scientists from coming to the US.

Applicants would be asked for their social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.

"We are very concerned that if the proposed changes are implemented, global undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and scientific collaborators may be discouraged from coming to the United States", the letter said.

The strict new questionnaire doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

Reuters reports that State Department officials said they will request the additional information of applicants when it's decided that extra steps are needed to "confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting", a condition that essentially gives official carte blanche to conduct the searches on whomever they please, for any reason. That's one of the questions consular officials and customs agents are asking US visa applicants now that the Trump administration has rolled out some controversial "extreme vetting" procedures.

The new application isn't as visible as the failed travel bans that the president has attempted to push through via executive orders - but they could affect even more people.

Check out what the new Visa questionnaire looks like here.

USA border officials already ask for social media handles when passengers arrive at the border, a recent change that was criticized as "highly invasive" by privacy and rights groups. Can you recall every single one of them?

The additional questions also include email addresses, phone numbers, past addresses, previous employment and travel history.

Asserting that national security is a top administration priority when adjudicating visa applications, Cocks said every prospective traveller to the United States undergoes extensive security screening.

  • Leroy Wright