In a move that is part of the Trump Administration’s pledge to implement heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas, a new question in relation to social media and contact history now appears on the DS-160 and DS-260 forms which are used by visa applicants at U.S. consulates.
In 2017, the Department of State had published, in the Federal Register, about their plans to add additional questions for visa applicants related to social media platforms and requiring applicants to provide user names used by these applicants on these platforms during the five (5) years preceding the date of the visa application. The new form allows for applicants to add multiple accounts from multiple social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube. In addition, applicants will also be required to provide, along with their current email and phone number details, a list of email addresses and phone numbers used in the previous five (5) years. These additional questions are listed under the Address and Phone Information Page tab.
Initially, the Department of State had been using a supplemental questionnaire, Form DS-5535, requiring only some visa applicants who have been flagged for further review to provide their social media information. Now, ALL DS-160 and DS-260 applications will include the request for social media platform usernames and contact history.
Officers at the US Consulate may use the social media information during the visa adjudication process by reviewing professional and personal social media profiles of the applicant. Any information that appears to inconsistent with the purpose of a visa applicant’s trip or other information in the visa application, or past immigration applications could result in substantial delays, denial of their visa application and quite possibly, the denial of subsequent immigration applications. Any material misrepresentation could result in a fraud charge.
Given the potential implications of this new question, it is recommended that all visa applicants review all their professional and personal social media profiles carefully and ensure all information provided on DS-160 and DS-230 are accurate and up to date.