All US Visa applicants could have to disclose social media information

The new rules would apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas

The proposal, if approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would require most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to list all social media identities they have used in the past five years.

In a document posted on the Federal Register on Thursday, anyone who wants to come to the USA on a non-immigrant visa will have to answer a list of questions under new rules.

Immigrants from nations where female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced will be also be directed to a State Department-run website to educate potential immigrants and visitors that the practice is illegal in the US, ensuring that human rights violations do not occur. The comment process concludes on May 29, 2018.

It would also give the applicant the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application.

The move by the Trump administration stops short of requiring passwords or access to those social media accounts, although then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggested previous year that it was being considered.

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"Maintaining robust screening standards for visa applicants is a dynamic practice that must adapt to emerging threats", State Department spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs Virginia Elliott said.

The Department of State says that the form "will be submitted electronically over an encrypted connection to the Department via the internet", as if to offer reassurance that it will be able to store the data securely.

The State Department wants to make some major changes to the visa application process, specifically, they want every applicant to disclose any social media handles used in the past five years over to the government, Engadget reports.

Previously, social media, email and phone number histories were only required from applicants singled out for extra scrutiny.

The changes would impact all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The department estimates it would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the US for business or education, according to the documents.

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