Stricter visa vetting procedures get approval despite facing criticism
US visa applicants will now be encouraged to hand over their social media history to officials after the Trump administration approved plans to ask for new pieces of data.
Through a questionnaire, officials can now ask for social media usernames for the previous five years, as well as email addresses, phone numbers and 15 years worth of personal information including travel and employment history.
As Reuters reports, the tougher vetting procedures were approved by the Office of Management and Budget despite widespread criticism from education and academic groups who cited the “overly burdensome” nature of the new questions.
The worry is that the process will result in processing delays and could discourage international students and academic professionals from travelling to the US.
A State Department official said that the extra information will only be asked for if “such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting”, adding that it would apply to applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities”.
The move adds to the furor around immigration that has so far been a constant of Donald Trump’s reign as President of the United States, which has been almost unanimously condemned by the tech industry.
Earlier in the year Trump signed an executive order that restricted the travel of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The order was publicly slammed and branded “un-American” by Dropbox executives, with CEO Drew Houston promising that the company would do “everything we can to support our employees and their families”.
Multiple firms including the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft also signed a brief in a US court in support of legal action against the order, which was eventually lifted by a US judge.
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