Jun 1, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump admin. requiring visa applicants to submit social media info

U.S. Visa immigration application

Photo: JamesYetMingAu-Photography/Getty Images

The State Department announced that all foreigners looking to attain a U.S. visa will have to list their social media accounts, emails and previous phone numbers, reports AP.

Why it matters: This change is part of the Trump administration's sweeping plan to overhaul the screening process, and they are citing national security as the primary motivation. President Trump has tried numerous things to curb immigration into the United States under the umbrella of national security, including the controversial "Muslim ban."

The impact: The move is expected to impact the nearly 14 million foreigners who apply for American visas annually. About 710,000 of those applications are for immigrant visa applicants, per AP.

  • Chinese visa agents are allegedly telling their citizens to avoid using terms such as "give birth to babies in the US," "greencard immigrant" or "guns" on social media as a result, per the South China Morning Post.

What they're saying: The Brennan Law Center released a statement saying the new requirement "creates serious risks to privacy and free speech. Despite the rush to implement these programs, there is scant evidence that they actually meet the goals for which they are deployed." They also claim Muslims will be especially targeted by the new requirement.

Context: The Trump administration announced this initiative in March 2018, but is only now moving forward with it. Social media screens are currently required for applicants who require "extra scrutiny," and nearly 65,000 applications each year fall into that category, according to AP.

Go deeper: ICE is seeking a program to monitor the social media of visa-holders

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