The new State Department policy has brought forward a major amendment in the screening process of US study visa applicants. The visa applicants from all around the world have to disclose social media accounts in the application form. The person has to enlist all the social media accounts he or she used in the last 5 years.
People traveling to the US for work and study strictly fall under the new rule. The disclosure of social media accounts will give government detailed insight about the applicant, milestones of his/her life, photos, political views, and other personal data available on the social media account.
State department stated that they have always been looking for ways to ensure the eligibility of applicants coming to the US. They added that this is a mechanism to protect US citizens and supporting lawful immigration to the country.
The rule was first announced last year in April 2018. It proposed the same idea but for limited and selected immigrants applying for a visa. The social media information was earlier required for only a few applicants whose profile needs further review and analysis.
But the new policy mandates the Social media info for all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications in the country. An official also declared that applicants will have the option of claiming they do not use social media. However, any lies if caught will bring severe effects on your visa applications.
The new policy is backed by President Donald Trump’s aggressive outlook on regulating United States immigration. Cracking down on immigrants and giving priority to US citizens was the major supporting plank of Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2017.
Mr. Trump’s immigration policies have always been controversial. This new rule is also facing a backlash from civil unions and immigration welfare organizations.
The new policy is expected to increase the application processing time considerably. The screening will involve the Department of State to look into the social media accounts of every applicant, research and analyze the people associated with the accounts. There are over a million visa applications every year in the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have outright called out the new policy “ineffective and deeply problematic” in 2018.
The union had expressed the concerns that there is no proof that screening through social media will help in filtering immoral people from the list. Moreover, the rule will only make people censor their social media accounts before applying for the visa.
Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, exclaimed that the new proposal is a waste of time and does not do any good for the security of the nation. It also violates the privacy of immigrants.
Amidst the clash and criticism, the visa forms requiring social media accounts have been made available since 31st May with the enforcement of Policy. Anyone applying for a visa is required to fill this field except those who are applying for diplomatic and official visas.