Tuesday June 25, 2019
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U.S. Now Seeking Social Media Details from Most Visa Applicants

The department has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms

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U.S., Social Media, Visa, Applicants
A man has his fingerprints electronically taken while taking part in a visa application demonstration. VOA

The State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for U.S. visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers. It’s a vast expansion of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors.

In a move that’s just taken effect after approval of the revised application forms, the department says it has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to request the additional information, including “social media identifiers,” from almost all U.S. applicants.

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

“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. “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.”

Extra scrutiny expanded

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’d traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 applicants per year had fallen into that category.

U.S., Social Media, Visa, Applicants

The State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for U.S. visas to submit their social media usernames. Pixabay

The department says collecting the additional information from more applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.”

The new rules apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. When it filed its initial notice to make the change, the department estimated it would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education.

Platforms listed

The new visa application forms 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. They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now 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.

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Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempted from the requirements. (VOA)

Next Story

Comments on Social Media May Hinder Credibility of Health Professionals

The only factor that influenced viewers’ perception of the profile owner’s professionalism was a single work day frustration comment

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India Polls, Fake News, Millions
Mostly first-time smartphone users, from the smaller towns and rural areas with no prior digital experience -- are particularly vulnerable to sharing fake information on social media platforms. Pixabay

For health professionals, posting a single negative comment on their Facebook profiles may hinder their credibility with current or potential clients, according to a study.

The findings, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, show that Facebook posts that may affect people’s perceptions of professionalism.

Researchers found that only one subtle comment posted expressing workplace frustration was enough for people to view one as a less credible health professional.

“This study provides the first evidence of the impact a health professionals’ personal online disclosures can have on his/her credibility,” said Serge Desmarais, Professor at the University of Guelph in Canada.

“This finding is significant not only because health professionals use social media in their personal lives, but are also encouraged to use it to promote themselves and engage with the public,” Desmarais said.

For the study, the research team involved more than 350 participants who viewed a mock Facebook profile and rated the profile owner’s credibility and then rated their own willingness to become his client.

carbon, digital
Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

The researchers tested factors, including the identified gender of the Facebook profile owner, whether they listed their profession as a veterinarian or medical physician and whether their profile included a posting of an ambiguous work day comment or a comment expressing frustration.

The only factor that influenced viewers’ perception of the profile owner’s professionalism was a single work day frustration comment.

On a scale from 0 to 100, the profile with the negative workday comment was rated 11 points lower (56.7) than the one with an ambiguous work day comment (67.9).

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“That’s a meaningful drop. This shows that it takes just one simple comment for people to view you as less professional and to decide they don’t want to become a client of yours,” said Desmarais.

“Depending on who sees your posts, you may really hurt your reputation just by being up late one night, feeling frustrated and posting your thoughts online,” Desmarais added. (IANS)