The U.S. State Department has recently added new questions to its online visa application form (Form DS-160) that require applicants to disclose their social media history. Applicants must provide information on all social media platforms they have used within the last five years, including all usernames or handles used on each platform.
Applicants must select social media platforms they have used from a drop-down list of 20 global platforms and then provide the username, screen name, handle or other identifiers used for each platform. Applicants who have not used any of the listed social media platforms must actively select “None” from the drop-down menu.
Passwords for personal accounts are not requested and should not be provided, and applicants do not need to list social media accounts designed for a business or organization.
BAL Analysis: Visa applicants should be aware of the new questions and that the State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection may be viewing their social media history and activity. While use of a particular social media platform alone is unlikely to trigger a visa denial or border stop, applicants’ online profiles and any information publicly available on their accounts, including employment details, could provide grounds for further questioning. Visa applicants should make sure their social media settings and profiles are up to date and be prepared to answer any questions regarding public information available on their social media accounts at their visa interview. Travelers entering the U.S. on a valid visa for business or employment should be sure that their online profiles are up to date and consistent with their intended purpose of travel and terms of their visa.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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