The U.S. will now require all persons applying for visitors’ visas to provide social media usernames, previous email addresses as well as phone numbers for additional inspection. It’s a significant expansion of the United States’ vetting process for potential visitors.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
The movie is expected to effect 15 million people who apply for U.S. visas each year.
The increased vetting was first proposed in March of last year.
In the past, digital histories had only been required from individuals designated for extra security, such as person who had recently traveled to areas controlled by known terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 people had fallen into that category.
In addition to social media usernames and passwords, applicants will now be asked for additional information such as five years of previously used telephone numbers, international travel and deportation status and whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
Only certain diplomatic and official visa types will exempt from the extra scrutiny.
Photo by Stacey MacNaught via Flickr