US visa applicants now required to share social media accounts

Visa applicants hoping to enter the United States will now be asked to fork over details of their social media accounts.


Almost all visa applicants to the United States will now be required to submit the social media usernames, email addresses and phone numbers.


The move is described as a “vast expansion” of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors.


According to a State Department official, anyone caught lying about their social media could face “serious immigration consequences.”


Experts estimate it will affect approximately 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year.


Critics have argued that the policy change is an impingement on privacy and First Amendment rights.


However, the US government disagrees.


“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the State Department said.


“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”


Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempted from the newly adopted rules.