On Thursday, March 29th the Trump administration announced new plans in requiring immigrants applying for visa status to submit five years worth of social media history, earning wide pushback from immigration and online privacy advocates.

This news follows the expressed goals of candidate and president Trump in pushing for more “extreme vetting” for immigrants coming to the United States. The State Department’s official notice requires for nearly all visa applicants to submit five years worth of social media postings and account information from specific social media platforms. This requirement would be for immigrant visas and form DS 260, and would not be required for nonimmigrant visas.

The notice indicates that there are exemptions for diplomatic and official visas, though it is expected that these exemptions will be granted on an extremely limited basis. This announcement precedes a 60-day period for the public to provide comments on the move before the practice is implemented.

The pushback amongst immigrant advocacy and civil liberties groups finds these groups taking aim at the Trump administration for forgoing rights to privacy, as well as slowing the legal immigration process down, making it harder for immigrants to be accepted for visa status. The administration maintains that the move is necessary to protect the country.

In addition to submitting five years of social media handles and history, the move would also ask immigrants to provide previous phone numbers, email addresses, previous immigration violations, and a personal family history of any terrorist activities.

The Trump administration has already inspired closer digging by the government of social media history and backgrounds on foreign individuals, but this announcement is significant in that the move is a formal requirement for all foreign individuals coming to the country.

D’Alessio Law Group is closely monitoring this news and will provide updates as they become available. For any questions on this matter, please reach out to your D’Alessio Law Group professional.

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