US visa crackdown as applicants now required to hand over social media usernames

Getting to the US is set to become more arduous for everyone, with almost all visitors needing visas being forced to hand over social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers.

The change is expected to affect about 15 million visitors who apply for visas to the US each year.

“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the State Department said.

“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube and Weibo are all named in the new visa application form, with applicants required to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.

The department says collecting the additional information from more applicants “will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity”.

The new rules apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas.