Additional Screening for Selected Visa Applicants

Some visa applicants may soon be asked to complete a new detailed questionnaire when applying for a non-immigrant or immigrant visa.  On June 1st, the Trump administration signed off on a new questionnaire to be implemented by U.S. consular officials.  The questionnaire will be implemented worldwide and is estimated to impact approximately 65,000 applicants.  Selected applicants will be asked to provide data such as social media user names/handles and 15 years' worth of travel, employment, and other biographical information.  Reportedly, the form does not request password or login information for social media sites.

Current visa application forms do request employment, residence, and prior travel information, but not dating back as far. Now applicants will also be asked to provide information on the funding source for prior trips.  Passport numbers, names and birth dates of all siblings, children, spouses and partners, social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses are all reportedly part of the increased vetting.

More Rigorous Screening

The questionnaire will be given to applicants to fill out when consular officers determine that additional information is needed to confirm an individual’s identity or when “more rigorous” national security vetting is deemed necessary.  It will not be required of all visa applicants.  Filling out the form is technically voluntary, but those who fail to provide the requested information risk their applications being delayed or denied.

Set to Expire in November

The questionnaire has been approved for a six-month period, through the end of November 2017.  Typically, such forms have a three-year validity period, but this one was processed on an “emergency” basis at the request of the administration.  To continue utilizing the form past November, the Department of State must initiate a routine approval request, allowing for 90 days of Federal Register notices, public comment, and agency response.