Feds want to look at social media accounts of visa applicants

It started with those seeking an immigrant visa and now the Trump administration wants social media information for nonimmigrants seeking a visa to the United States.  The new rule was proposed by the U.S. Department of State and could impact nearly 14.5 million immigrants who travel to the United States annually, according to the New York Times.

The new rule would ask visa applicants to submit their social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers for the previous five years. The move is part of what President Donald Trump has called extreme vetting of those wishing to enter the United States.

If the rule is approved it would allow immigration officers to inspect 20 different social media organizations including, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, and Youtube. Some international sites are also being inspected including, Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Youku, VK, Twoo, and Ask.fm.

This new proposal is different than the previous rule because it impacts those who are coming to the United States for business or pleasure. The previous rule impacted those who were staying in the United States permanently. Some of the countries impacted include Brazil, Mexico, China, and India, according to the NY Times.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Citizens from about 40 countries that typically travel to the United States visa-free will not be impacted if the new rule is accepted. Those countries include Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea, according to the NY Times.

The new rule was announced on March 30, 2018, and still needs to be approved or rejected by the Management and Budget Office after a 60 day public comment period.

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