U.S. Visa Applicants May Soon Have To Submit Five Years of Social Media Information

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

The Trump administration announced  that it plans to require all U.S. visa applicants to hand over up to five years worth of their social media information. The administration has put an emphasis on “extreme vetting” of potential U.S. immigrants. This means prying through their Facebook and Twitter feedsCNNreported.

The Obama administration also practiced monitoring visa applicants’ accounts, but on a more limited and voluntary basis. The new policy would be mandatory and much more widespread.

The government intends to require applicants to submit their usernames for certain social media networks and give them the option to submit usernames for additional networks. Applicants would not be expected to share their passwords or give access to their accounts.

The new policy is expected to affect about 15 million immigrants in the U.S., according to CNN.

Previously, social media, email and phone number histories were only sought from applicants identified for extra scrutiny, such as those who have traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 people per year are in that category.

The new rules would apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

If the requirements are approved by the Office of Management and Budget, applications for all visa types would list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

It would also give the applicant the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application.

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants will be asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types may be exempted from the requirements, the documents said.