US visa screening: The Trump administration has come up with stringent visa screening process and a new questionnaire for US visa applicants which include Indians. With an aim to increase national security, applicants are asked to share information regarding their social media accounts, emails telephone numbers and job history. The applicants will be asked about biographical information going back 15 years, according to Indian Express report. The State Department said that it started implementing this new change from May 25 notwithstanding criticism from education officials and academic groups, the report says.
Here are key points that US visa applicants must know
According to new norms, failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of visa application.
Watch this video
Consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.
State Department has said that officials will request the additional information when they determine that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting. The State Department, however, has said these additional questions would be asked only in extreme circumstances, according to PTI report.
It has been learned that earlier the tighter vetting would apply to visa applicants who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities, according to the report.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes and to support legitimate travel and immigration to the United States while protecting US citizens,” State Department spokesman Will Cocks was quoted as saying by PTI.
These measures came after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in this regard. “In accordance with the president’s March 6, 2017 memorandum on enhancing the screening and vetting of applications for visas, the Department of State has begun collecting additional information from visa applicants worldwide when a consular officer determines that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” he said.
Allaying the apprehensions and criticisem, the State Department has said that these changes affect only a fraction of one per cent of the more than 13 million annual visa applicants worldwide. “Consular officers will only use this additional information to vet applicants for potential visa ineligibilities under the existing US law. There are no visa ineligibilities under the US law on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, political views, gender or sexual orientation,” It said, as per PTI report.