A new questionnaire will ask US visa applicants for all social media handles used over the past five years and biographical information going back 15 years, including addresses, employment, where any travel funds came from, prior passport numbers, and more. The new questionnaire was approved for use by the Office of Management and Budget on May 23 and is part of the Trump administration's plan to increase vetting of people entering the country, Reuters reports. “Collecting additional information from visa applicants whose circumstances suggest a need for further scrutiny will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” a State Department official tells Fox News.
The State Department says the new questionnaire will be given to applicants officials deem may pose a threat to the US, Ars Technica reports. Officials estimate it will be used for approximately 0.5% of visa applicants, or about 65,000 people per year. The questionnaire has been criticized by academic groups, immigration advocates, and others. They say it could discourage foreign students and scientists from coming to the US, and that remembering five years of social media handles and 15 years of personal information is easier said than done. "The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world," one immigration lawyer tells Reuters. "The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear." (Read more visas stories.)