Alongside an applicant's contact details requirement for U.S visa application is five years worth of social media handles and biographical information.
The questionnaire was rolled out in response to President Donald Trump's March 6 memo mandating enhanced visa screening.
Five years worth of social media handles and biographical information (like passport numbers, addresses and travel histories)in addition to a person's contact details are some of the important information required to apply for the visa.
The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.
The plan has already raised concerns of civil liberties advocates, who fear travellers who pose no terrorist threat may be stigmatised for their political or religious views. More so, the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.
According to the US official, consular officers can now demand extra information from applicants they deem to require “more rigorous national security vetting.”
“Such visa applicants will be asked to provide additional information, including their social media handles, prior passport numbers, additional information about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment, and contact information,” Ms Camille Dawson said.
Nevertheless, she added, these changes will “affect only a fraction of one percent of the more than 13 million annual visa applicants worldwide.”
She added that consular officers will not ask for social media passwords, interact with individuals on social media, or attempt to circumvent their privacy settings.
According to the president of the Iranian American Bar Association, Babak Yousefzadeh, “The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world. The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear.”