All visa applicants to the U.S. will now be required to hand over their social media names, email addresses and phone numbers used over the last five years, according to a policy by the State Department.
The new policy is expected to affect about 15 million applicants who are seeking potential business or education visas.
The department says the collection of additional information from applicants, which was first proposed in March 2018, “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” the Associated Press reported.
Unless exempt due to diplomatic or official reasons, applicants will need to hand over five years of phone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, and whether family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
The revised forms will include the most popular social media platforms and require applicants to provide any account names used over the past five years.
Applicants will also have the option to give social media accounts on platforms not listed on the forms.
A State Department official told The Hill that there will be “serious immigration consequences” if a visa applicant is caught lying about their social media use.
The data collection was previously used on applicants who were being heavily scrutinized, such as travelers who had visited places controlled by terrorist groups.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the department said. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”