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Visa Applicants Required To Share Social Media Information With The U.S.

United States City

Social Media: We all use it, whether for fun, sharing our opinions, debating politics, or sharing pictures with family across the miles. We joke, we poke fun, use colorful language, and share our feelings, moods, or things we’ve done, and places we’ve been. Most of us use some form of social media at one time or another; it’s become a way of life most of us are involved with daily. But, do we take most of what we post about seriously? Not always. We may say things that could come off to some, as being malicious, inappropriate, and even in some cases, criminal. Although most likely not our intent, the written word is interpreted in many ways. You can’t see a person’s expression and tell if perhaps they are not serious about a questionable post. We don't stop to think, for the most part, our social media postings could be harmful to either ourselves or others but think again.

You may think you have just posted a particular item to a friend or a group of friends, but are you aware if you live outside of the United States, something you post may stop you from gaining entry into the US? It’s true, and regulations for Visa applications are becoming more stringent every day, and now there is a new caveat thrown into the mix.


Visa application requirements

On May 31, 2019, The US Department of State updated their immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms, which requires travelers visiting the United States to answer social media questions. Visa applicants are now required to provide all account names they may have used on several different social media platforms for the previous five years. Additionally, a five-year history of telephone numbers and email addresses used are also requested. There is also an option to provide voluntary information about social media accounts, not listed on the application, that the applicant may have used. Those reviewing the application are looking for any posts that sound like terroristic threats, or any posts that could signal illicit, illegal activities. In addition to the applicant’s potentially threatening posts, those who review the applications are also looking at family members and friends who may have made posts about the same.


ESTA under Visa Waiver Program

If a traveler chooses and is eligible to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) under the Visa Waiver Program, allowing for travel to the US for 90 days without a Visa, the option to enter details about his/her social media usage and information is not required. However, travelers that are required to apply for a regular Visa will have to fill out the application with answers to social media questions.

In this age of threats, and after the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, the US has had no choice but to become much more strict when it comes to visitors to the United States. It may seem like an invasion of privacy to some, but historically many who follow through on terroristic threats have, at some point, posted something that gave a hint as to what they were planning, or their intent to harm others. It boils down to this. If an applicant has nothing to hide, this request should not be a problem. This new regulation is just one more safety measure the United States can take with outside visitors to help protect its citizens.

Published on: 22 August 2019

Author: USA ESTA Team

Legal Disclaimer: This website is operated by a private company and is not affiliated with the United States Government