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Visa applicants to face social media background checks

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Maryland residents will likely know that immigration has been a hot-button topic. President Trump's controversial travel ban has been struck down by federal courts and may ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court, but other efforts designed to tighten border security have been implemented. Trump has called for more thorough background checks on individuals seeking entry into the United States, and the Office of Management and Budget announced on May 23 that visa applicants will now be expected to provide embassy and consular staff with far more information.

The revised visa application asks for social media account information for the last five years and 15 years of biographical data. Government sources claim that the changes are required to protect national security and will only be applied to individuals selected for more rigorous screening. Civil rights advocacy groups and several academics have raised strong objections to the revisions, and they point out that the visa application process is already extremely strict.

While applicants are not required to provide the information, experts say that individuals who decline to do so can expect lengthy delays and may not be approved for travel to the United States. In addition to social media user names, the revised visa application asks for email addresses, previous employers and travel histories. The OMB has approved the new rules for six months according to reports.

Individuals who wish to live and work legally in America must navigate their way through a strict application and screening process, and innocent omissions or genuine mistakes could lead to their applications being denied. Experienced immigration attorneys could help visa applicants to avoid this kind of pitfall by explaining the purpose of the various questions and helping them to gather the required information.

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