Department of State publishes rule to ask security risk applicants for in-depth information

The Department of State has published a proposal to increase the amount of information collected from certain visa applicants.

The proposal for information collection was published May 4, 2017 in the Federal Register, under emergency review procedures. The Department stated that the information collection would implement a March 6, 2017 memorandum issued by President Trump seeking rigorous evaluation of all grounds of inadmissibility, or denial of other immigration benefits.

The proposed information collection would affect about 65,000 immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants who warrant further scrutiny in connection with national security or terrorism. These applicants would be required to provide a 15-year history of their addresses, employment and travel, all their passport numbers and countries of issuance, and the names and dates of birth of all their siblings, children, and current or former spouses or domestic partners. In addition, any email addresses, phone numbers, and social media platforms and handles used in the past five years would have to be provided. Much of this information is already provided by visa applicants, but for a shorter time period, five years instead of fifteen years. The requirement to provide names and dates of birth for siblings is new.

Failure to provide the information will not necessarily result in a denial of the visa, if the applicant can provide a credible explanation as to why the information is not available. The collection of social media information will not be used to deny visas based on race, ethnicity, religion, political views, national origin, gender or sexual orientation, the Department said.