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Will Social Media Information Be Required in US Visa Applications?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are going to be discussing US visa applications, specifically some recent developments with respect to social media and how social media will interact, or the possession of social media accounts will interact with visa applications in the future.

So from a recent article on the blog papersplease.org, the title of the article: State Department proposes more surveillance of social media communications and travel. Quoting directly: Today the US Department of State published proposals in the Federal Register to expand its ongoing surveillance of social media, e-mail, and travel by applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant (tourism or other temporary visits) visas”. So now they’re quoting directly from this proposal in the federal register.  The department is revising the collection to add several additional questions for visa applicants. One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms; other questions seek five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, as well as international travel.  Now international travel questions have been around for some time. In most of the Department of State forms you will see questions pertaining to whether or not the applicant has lived or traveled to various other countries. But the addition of these requests for social media accounts, this is a major development and could result in longer processing times as well as more complexity with respect to the application process itself.  I recommend those who are watching this video, again it is papersplease.org, the title is: State Department proposes more surveillance of social media communications and travel. They actually put up the proposed form on that blog and it is interesting because they have got things like Google Plus, Instagram, Linkedit, Myspace, Qzone, Reddit, Tumbler, Twitter, Vine, YouTube. They have got these all noted with check boxes next to them which say yes or no and then after the checkbox they say, show “social media identifier”. So they are asking or at least it seems that they are proposing that applicants for US visas or visas to the United States be asked about their social media presence, or their digital footprint for lack of a better term, and provide the identifiers to find all of their accounts online as part of the adjudication visa process. Now how ultimately this is all going to play out, how integral this is going to be to the immigration process remains to be seen but I think it is substantial, it is noteworthy, it is going to have an impact on the overall process.  How it is going to impact the overall process somewhat remains to be seen but I think it is going to be very interesting moving forward to see just exactly how adjudicators for visa benefits will take these issues into consideration, whether they are going to go to these sites and monitor these folks prior to the visa interview or scrutinize them and scrutinize their history that remains to be seen. Let me be clear. I can see some rather ballot applications for this for example if someone is applying for visa benefits as fiancée to an American citizen and they give their Facebook post and there are multiple photos from the three weeks prior to the visa interview of the visa applicant with some person that appears to be other than their fiancée, their designated fiancée and they are engaged in let’s say sort of romantic poses or something of that nature. Under those circumstances I think : Yes the Consular Officer might be warranted in going ahead and placing either further scrutiny on that case, requesting further documentation pertaining to perhaps who that other person is, pertaining to the relationship between the American and the fiancé abroad, or perhaps under rather extreme circumstances maybe under that hypothetical, issuing a denial of the visa application based on the notion that  that Consular Officer thinks that their whole relationship may be a sham, may not be a sham on part of both parties but may simply be a sham on the part of the foreign national who is seeking the visa to the United States. This is a hypothetical scenario but what I am saying is, I can see applications for using this information that would be of sort of an investigative or adjudicatory nature on the part of the Consular Officer or so for that reason I think it is fairly likely to think of this eventuality as being a foregone conclusion and is probably, I think we will probably see this implemented in it the next two to five years.