U.S. wants visa applicants to submit phone, email, social media details

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. "It will infringe on the rights of immigrants and USA citizens by chilling freedom of speech and association, particularly because people will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official".

If you're hoping to apply for a US visa in the future, you may have to prepare yourself to hand over a lot of your very personal information - including your Twitter handle.

While the documents were already posted on the Federal Register's website since yesterday, the 60-day public commenting period will only begin today as soon as the Friday's edition of the documents have been published.

"This upgrade to visa vetting is long overdue, and it's appropriate to apply it to everyone seeking entry, because terrorism is a worldwide problem. The aim is to try to weed out people with radical or risky views", said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

As per the document published on the Federal Reserve's website, the application for the United States visa may be revised to include additional questions regarding the various social media platforms being used by the applicants within five years preceding the date of the application.

Don Crocetti, a former senior fraud investigator for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said it makes sense to collect the information - but said officers need to stay within privacy rules, too.

The State Department estimates that the new visa forms would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants. It could also conceivably include social-media platforms based overseas, like QQ and Weibo in China and VK in Russian Federation.

The proposal, which comes from the state department, would require most visa applicants to give details of their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

In turn, DHS established a task force for using social media to screen immigration applicants.

If you're hoping to apply for some kind of visa to immigrate to the U.S., it seems that you might need to hand over some of your social media information. The government has failed to disclose how this information - accurate or not - may be shared across government agencies and have consequences for individuals living in America, including US citizens.

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