The Trump administration plans to require that US visa applicants - including those filling for permanent residency (greens cards) - to provide their social media history, email addresses and phone numbers covering the previous five years.
The State Department will on Friday publish documents on Federal Register, and give the public 60 days to comment on the proposed new requirements.
If the requirements are approved all would-be immigrants and visitors to the US on most visa categories will be affected. The only exceptions are those traveling on diplomatic and official government visas. An estimated 15 million foreigners who apply for US visas each year will be affected.
In addition to social media and phone number histories, visa applicants will also be required to disclose their previous international travel, deportation status, as well as whether any applicant’s family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
Previously, such information was only required from about 65,000 people each year – those applicants who had been flagged for extra security scrutiny for various reasons such as having traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.
Critics of the proposal say that in addition to it being an invasion of privacy, the proposal will limit legal immigration as it will show down the visa application process and make it more difficult for foreigners to be granted US visas.