You will now submit your social media handles when applying for US visa

The United States State Department says applicants will now have to submit social media usernames when applying for a visa into the North American country.

The US State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for US visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers.

Under the new requirements, visa applicants will have the option to say that they do not use social media, but people caught lying about their social media use could face “serious immigration consequences”, a State Department official told The Hill.

The department is updating its immigrant and non-immigrant visa application forms to request the additional information from nearly all applicants for US visas.

The Hill reports that most visa applicants, including temporary visitors, will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop down menu along with other personal information in a vast expansion of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of foreign nationals.

For now, the drop down menu only includes major social media websites, but the official said applicants soon will be able to list all sites that they use.

The change, which was proposed in March 2018, is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the US each year.

According to BBC, the new regulations also require that people also submit five years’ worth of email addresses and phone numbers.

This is part of the state department’s plan to ensure national security in the country.

National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening, the department said via an initial proposal in 2018.
We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.

Social media, email and phone number histories had only been sought in the past from applicants who were identified for extra scrutiny, such as people who had travelled to areas controlled by terrorist organisations.

This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States, the department official said.

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