Friday 21 June 2019

Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire

Foreigners who decry American imperialism while seeking to relax on Miami’s sandy beaches or play poker at Las Vegas’s casinos may seek to soften their tone on Twitter.
Or foreigners posting on Facebook about someday living in New York City may now decide to take their love for the Big Apple down a notch, lest they be suspected of wanting to stay in the United States permanently.

The reason?
The U.S. State Department is now demanding visa applicants provide their social-media profiles on nearly two dozen platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
The rules, which took effect on May 31, don’t require applicants to turn over passwords to social-media accounts.
Still, immigration lawyers said the demands may stifle open discussion on social media, making prospective immigrants or visitors more cautious about what they post and whom they befriend online.
“People will be afraid to express their opinion on politics of the U.S,” said Andrei Romanenko, a Russian-speaking immigration lawyer based in San Francisco. “Some will fear to add friends living in the U.S. because they may think that an extensive network of friends in the U.S. may become an indicator of immigrant intent.”
Announced last year, the updated rules are part of a wider program by President Donald Trump to tighten the U.S. borders, a campaign promise that helped him get elected in 2016.
Now, most people who are required to obtain a visa — even if it’s just to visit relatives for a few days — are required to share their social-media information on their application form.
The rules don’t apply to people from countries that currently are exempt from short-term visa rules — for example, foreign tourists or business travelers who are allowed to visit the United States for 90 days, visa-free, under the Visa Waiver Program. But individuals seeking employment visas will be required to turn over, say, their LinkedIn profile information.
“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 State Department said in a statement to RFE/RL. “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.”
20 platformsThe rules now require applicants to share their social-media handles or identifiers used in the past five years for the following platforms: Ask FM, Douban, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, QZone, Reddit, Sina Weibo, Tencent

Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire


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