DOS Proposes Adding Social Media, Other Questions to DS-160 Visa Application

May 24, 2018

 

On March 30, 2018 the Department of State (DOS) proposed adding several additional questions to Form DS-160, the standard application used by individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa. DOS will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days, until May 29, 2018. Comment instructions are in the Federal Register Notice, published at 83 FR 13807. NAFSA and 55 other organizations joined in a May 24, 2018 comment letter.

Read the May 24, 2018 joint comment letter that NAFSA joined

One question proposed by DOS would list multiple social media platforms and require all applicants to provide any identifiers the applicant has used for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. Applicants would also be given the option to provide information about social media identifiers associated with any platforms other than those that are listed.

DOS also proposed requiring all applicants to indicate:

  • Five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel;
  • Whether the applicant has been deported or removed from any country; and
  • Whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

DOS also proposed adding similar questions to the Form DS-260 application for an immigrant visa, in a separate Federal Register notice published the same day at 83 FR 13806.

NAFSA and Others Comment on Proposed Revisions to Visa Application Forms

NAFSA and a coalition of 55 other organizations submitted a comment letter on May 24, 2018, to express concerns regarding the proposed revisions to the visa application forms.

Read the organization comment letter that NAFSA joined

While recognizing the need to secure the nation from individuals who seek to do the United States and its interests harm, the organizations also stated that the United States must remain open to those pursuing academic study and scientific and engineering research, and that our nation's security and competitiveness in the world depends on a visa and immigration system that accomplishes both of these important tasks.

The comment letter specifically addressed the following concerns:

  • Uncertainty about scope and frequency of information collection
  • Uncertainty regarding the collection of social media information
  • Uncertainty about privacy protection and the purpose of the information collection
  • Vulnerable populations must be assured their information will be protected
  • Implementation issues, including processing delays
  • Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative
  • Positive messages and privacy protections needed

NAFSA had also joined a comment letter in 2017, when DOS proposed similar questions be added to the Form DS-5535 "extreme vetting" form.