Virtually all foreign nationals who wish to visit Arizona or any other U.S. state will now have to provide immigration authorities with their social media user names or handles. Updated visa application forms now ask for this information and list dozens of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit. Visa applicants who use platforms not listed on the new forms are expected to provide their usernames along with the names of the platforms. Immigration authorities do not require visa applicants to provide their social media passwords, but they do ask them for any email addresses and telephone numbers they have used during the last five years.
The enhanced scrutiny was proposed in March 2018 and similar measures have been in place for some time for individuals who have visited, or travel to the United States from, countries that have been identified by the Department of State as terrorist hot spots. Prior to the recent rollout, the measures affected about 65,000 visa applicants each year.
It is estimated that about 15 million visa applicants will be asked to provide this information during the next 12 months. The questions appear on both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications, which means that those visiting the United States to conduct business, attend school, or take a vacation will be required to provide social media identifying information. However, diplomats and those applying for certain official visas are exempted.
These changes to the visa application process are an example of the kind of scrutiny visitors to the United States and those who wish to live and work in the country legally can expect. Attorneys with experience in U.S. immigration law could help individuals to avoid unnecessary delays or denials by ensuring that their visa application paperwork is completed and submitted properly.