Singapore

Some US visa applicants are asked for social media handles

The United States embassy in Singapore is starting to request social media handles from visa applicants as part of the application process worldwide.

This is on a need-to basis when the consular officer determines more information is necessary "to confirm identity or to conduct more rigorous national security vetting", an embassy spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday.

The changes are estimated to affect "only a fraction of 1 per cent of the more than 13 million annual visa applicants worldwide", said the spokesman Camille Dawson.

She added that consular officers will not ask for social media passwords, interact with individuals on social media, or attempt to circumvent their privacy settings.

Under a supplemental questionnaire which was implemented as of May 25, visa applicants will be asked to provide additional information, including their social media handles, prior passport numbers, extra details about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment, and contact information.

If the additional information is not provided and a consular officer determines that it is necessary to make a decision on the visa application, the application could be denied unless "a credible explanation" is provided, added Ms Dawson.

The questionnaire was rolled out after US President Donald Trump had mandated enhanced visa screening in March.

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