Visa exempt foreigners arriving in US may need to show social media accounts

Foreign travellers arriving in the US with a visa waiver may need to provide details of their social media accounts, according to the US DHS (Department of Homeland Security).

Conceptualised initially in June, this plan, which is presently being assessed for costing by the Office of Management and Budget, would empower the US CBP (Customs and Border Protection) to ask some travellers coming from foreign countries to America to provide accounts of their social media on customs documents for facilitating the improvement of the current investigative procedure and clear any doubts that DHS may have about their probable harmful activities and contacts, the DHS said.

Under the visa-waiver programme of the US, citizens of many Western European countries in addition to South Korea and Japan may enter the US sans a visa for a maximum of 90 days. As a quid pro quo, US citizens are also allowed to travel to 38 countries without having to apply for a visa. quotes the Federal Register as saying that if the plan gets a go-ahead after the Office of Management and Budget’s cost assessment, people travelling under the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and visa-waiver programme under Form I-94W could agree to provide access to their online presence information.

A CBP spokesperson was said to have told The Intercept that collection of social media information may help them identify threats as experience had previously demonstrated that anti-social elements have inadvertently provided information previously inaccessible via social media, laying bare their ulterior motives. The spokesperson added that these details, however, would not be used to reject visitors’ applications to the US because of the views they hold politically, religiously or otherwise.

According to DHS, other federal agencies would only be able to access information available publicly on those platforms in conformity with their privacy settings. It could be implemented by the end of the year if the Office of Management and Budget approves it.

If you are planning to travel to the US, contact Mahandru Associates to get advice and assistance to file for a visa

Back to top