Jun 03 2019

Visa Applicants Now Required to Disclose Social Media Use, Prior Contact Information

United States

At a glance

  • Foreign nationals must provide five years of social media history, email addresses and phone numbers when applying for a U.S nonimmigrant or immigrant visa.
  • The requirement is the latest step in the Trump Administration’s extreme vetting initiative.
  • Consular officers are likely to review the new information during the visa adjudication process, which could result in additional screening and visa issuance delays.

The issue

The State Department now requires foreign nationals to disclose five years of social media and contact history when applying for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa. New questions about social media use, prior email addresses and prior phone numbers were added late last week to State Department Forms DS-160 and DS-260, the online nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications.

Applicants are now required to:

  • Disclose the social media platforms they have used within the previous five years;
  • Provide their username(s) for each platform, though passwords are not required and should not be provided; and
  • In addition to their current email and phone number details, list additional email addresses and phone numbers used in the previous five years.

Consular officers may use social media information – including professional profiles and public personal information – during the visa adjudication process.  Profiles, postings and details that appear inconsistent with the purpose of a visa applicant’s trip, other information in the visa application, or past immigration benefits applications could result in additional security clearances and even visa refusals.

The State Department has used social media information in visa adjudications since mid-2017, though until now, foreign nationals were not required to provide their use history unless they were deemed by a U.S. consulate to pose heightened security concerns.  These initiatives derive from President Trump’s 2017 memorandum on “extreme vetting” of applicants for immigration benefits.

What this means for visa applicants

Foreign nationals planning to apply for a U.S. visa should:

  • Gather social media and past contact information before starting a DS-160 or DS-260 visa application.
  • Make sure social media profiles are accurate and up to date.
  • Answer the new application questions accurately and to the best of their ability. If unable to recall precise details, an applicant may answer “unknown,” but should be prepared for the possibility of additional screening during the visa process.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.