The U.S State Department has announced that applicants for U.S visas will have to submit their social media names, five years’ worth of email addresses and phone numbers as part of the application process.
This regulation was proposed last year and according to the BBC reports, it is believed that an estimated 14.7 million people will be affected annually.
However, the new rule doesn’t apply to diplomatic or government official.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States,” the department reportedly said.
Gulf News reports that the U.S Embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed the news. It quoted the embassy as saying:
This update — which we initially announced last year in the Federal Register — is a result of the President’s March 6, 2017, Memorandum on Implementing Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and other Immigration Benefits and Section 5 of Executive Order 13780 regarding implementing uniform screening and vetting standards for visa applications.
We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information and previous addresses from all visa applicants. Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity.
In the past, only visa applicants who weren’t found eligible enough and needed additional scrutiny were required to submit their social media information.
In May, the US embassy in Nigeria announced the suspension of the “Dropbox” visa application process for Nigerians. Diplomatic and government officials were however exempted from the new visa rule.
“Dropbox” is the fancy name given to the process of simply renewing your visa by sending your application via courier or DHL to the embassy, where it is then processed and a new one re-issued.
But now as a Nigerian, the process is longer valid for those who are willing to travel to the United States and want a visa renewal. It is required to show up at the consulate in person.
According to an official, “for now, countries with the highest overstay rates-which include Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are being put “on notice” ultimately, nationals from countries with high overstay rates could be barred entirely.