Nearly everyone applying for a visa to enter the United States will have to provide their social media accounts as well as other detailed personal information as part of the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” process for all immigrants and visitors.
The U.S. State Department says it has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to require applicants to provide five years’ worth of social media user names, telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status. They will also be asked whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
The new rules, first proposed in 2018, are expected to affect nearly 15 million people, including those applying to immigrate to the U.S., as well as those hoping to study, do business, work or just visit. Only applicants for diplomatic and official visas could be exempt from the new rules.
Previously, detailed information on personal activity was only sought from applicants who were deemed a possible security risk. An estimated 65,000 applicants per year fell into that category.
“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 State Department said in a release.
Besides the social media platforms based in the U.S. like Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube, applicants will also be asked about activity of international platforms, such as China’s Douban, QQ and Sina Weibo.
Applicants do have the option of saying they have no social media accounts. But, the State Department has warned that lying about social media use would have “serious immigration consequences” for applicants, The Hill reported.
Companies in China that help students navigate the process of getting into U.S. colleges and universities are telling their clients to avoid posting sensitive terms such as “maternity hotel,” “give birth to babies in the U.S.,” “guns,” “green card,” immigrant,” “buy property in the U.S.” on their social media platforms, The South China Morning Post reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union has voiced opposition to the new requirements since they were first proposed last year.
“There is also no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair, especially in the absence of criteria to guide the use of social media information in the visa adjudication process,” the ACLU said at the time. (VOA)
Immigration in the United States is no more the way it used to be in the past; it has had a lot of changes in the past two years which makes it more difficult for potential migrants all over the world. Most of these changes were predicted by experts of immigration since 2017 before the changes started rapidly in 2018. President Trump has made it very clear that he has started a big reformation at the immigration sector, his claims have made a lot of immigrants think twice before applying for the United States visa or traveling to the country. In early 2019, the country was rocked with a government shutdown all over the country due to the argument that occurred among the Congress over the idea of President Trump to build a wall which would cost billions of dollar at the border of the country with Mexico. Later in the year after the commencement of the wall, many other laws have been amended, which include the ESTA which would be decided in 2020 if it will be stopped or not. The border patrol has also been strengthened with the increment in salaries of officers and purchase of new arms and ammunition for them. As a lot of immigration policies and laws have been amended within two years, predictions of laws that may come up and laws that could be amended in 2019 should be discussed because there are lots of immigration law amendments that are still under deliberation in courts all over the country and the Congress. Below are things that could happen to the United States immigration laws and policies in 2019:
Reduction in the legal figure of immigration – The legal number of immigration in the United States have been stable over the years; the country gives visa to thousands of people all over the world as it has a huge legal immigration figure. With the introduction of new immigration policies and a lot of ongoing deliberation, there is a probability that the number of visas that the country gives yearly will be reduced to half of the former figure or even lower than that. Ban has been placed on a few countries of the world in the United States, which means visa cannot be given to citizens of such countries except in very special cases. The visa lottery has also been canceled in many countries that were entitled to in the past years. These are great signs that the number of visas given has been reduced drastically and will be reduced more.
Retrieval of citizenship – Immigrants who are fortunate to have naturalized to become United States citizens over the years, should be aware that their citizenship is not permanent and could be stripped off. The deliberation to cancel the ESTA and some other immigration laws backingnaturalization in the country will strip some people of their United States citizenship if successfully canceled.
Increase in deportations and visa denials – The changes in policies in the country has made it clear that there is a very high probability that the number of visas given to immigrants will reduce which implies that the number of visa denials will increase drastically. It is also obvious that the number of immigrants that are deported yearly in the United States will increase to a very high number due to the strict laws against illegal immigrants that live in the countries. It is predicted that it will become very difficult for immigrants who live in the country with expired visas as new immigration laws concerning short term visas will be enacted.
The question, “when do I need US visa?” Is for everyone to except citizens of visa waiver program countries because they will need to register for ESTA online before they can gain access into the USA.
Reduction in the admission of international students – International study is another way in which immigrants gain access to permission to travel to the United States. The number of international students in the country has been alarmingin the past two years, which makes it one of the possible immigration loopholes that the country may check. In the past, international students are favored when it comes to visa interview because of their motive of going to the United States. The reduction in the legal number of immigration in the country will also bring big reduction to the rate at which international students are given visa.
Stopping the entrepreneurship visas – Entrepreneurs who have a business that worth five hundred thousand dollars or more are usually given visas due to their involvement in the economy of the country. This type of visa may be canceled in 2019 because the cancelation of this type of visa is being deliberated upon in the Congress.