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The State Department has proposed that almost everyone looking to obtain a US visa must submit five years of social media handles. The rules would apply to almost all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas, affecting nearly 15 million people.
Handing over social media information as part of the visa application process was initially suggested in 2015, just weeks after the San Bernardino shooting. A year later, the Department of Homeland Security started requesting that certain foreign travelers—those identified for extra scrutiny—hand over their social media details when visiting the US. This had been a voluntary request; visitors would not be denied entry into the country if they refused.
In the notices set for formal publication today, the government will list social media platforms and require virtually all visa applicants, including those applying for legal permanent residency, to “provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application.”
The application will also ask for previous telephone numbers, email addresses, prior immigration violations, and any family history of involvement in terrorist activities. The State Department said the only exceptions to these rules would be those applying for diplomatic and official visas.
CNN notes that the Trump administration still isn’t requiring visa applicants hand over their social media passwords, though that is something then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly last year said was being considered.
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal once it is filed to the Federal Register today.