U.S. government to demand five years of social media information for visa applicants

Entering the U.S. will be more complicated than ever. Specialists from the IICS cybersecurity training reported that the U.S. State Department will request those who wish to enter the country for their social media profiles, email addresses and phone numbers used for the last five years.

This decision will impact about 15 million people who apply for a visa to enter the U.S. every year. The submission of this form applies to anyone seeking residency, entry to an academic institution in the U.S., work or tourist visa.

“This new policy will strengthen the applicants’ approve process, as it helps us verify their identity in a reliable way”, the department mentions.

On the form, applicants must specify whether they are users of one of the most popular social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; they should also specify if they use any other similar platform of lesser popularity, report the experts of the cybersecurity training.

Another of the additional measures is to ask applicants if they have ever been involved in terrorist activities, as well as to check family background.

A State Department official mentioned that there would be “serious consequences” for applicants who are surprised lying to U.S. immigration authorities, such as application reject or permanent withdrawal of their visa. According to the cybersecurity training experts, in the past these measures were only applicable to individuals linked to terrorist groups. 

“We keep working to improve our policies of entry into American territory to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens while supporting tourists and applicants for residency”, the State Department mentioned.

Information privacy experts consider detailing a profile of each applicant to enter the U.S. is an understandable policy, although before there must be the necessary mechanisms to ensure that this personal information is protected and operated appropriately or, failing that, implement an effective data deletion policy.

However, according to experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), U.S. immigration authorities have demonstrated their inability to adequately protect information from people trying to enter the country, exposing these data to malicious users.