Nigeria: U.S. Demands Social Media Handles of Visa Applicants

3 June 2019

The United States at the weekend rolled out new guidelines for visa applicants, which mandated them to provide details of their social media handles as part of the screening process.

The embassy said in a statement that it was doing all within its power to promote national security.

The guidelines came less than a month after the US Embassy in Nigeria announced that all visa applicants, including frequent travellers, who were using the drop box method would have to appear for interviews each time they apply for visa.

The applicants, according to the United States State Department, must also submit five years' worth of email addresses and phone numbers.

The measures, BBC reported, are part of strategies to ensure national security in the US.

"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 department said via an initial proposal in 2018.

"We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," the department had said in the 2018 initial proposal.

It added that certain diplomatic and official visa applicants would be exempted from the stringent new measures.

However, people travelling to the US to work or to study will have to submit the information before being considered.

Last month, the US Embassy had announced that all applicants, including frequent travellers who were using the drop box method, would now have to appear for interviews each time they applied.

It, however, said diplomatic and government officials could continue to enjoy the status quo.

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