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Applying for US visa? Visitors will now have to hand over social media details

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Washington, June 02: Nearly all applicants for US visas will have to submit their social media user names, previous email addresses and phone numbers.

The change, first announced last year and taking effect this month, follows on a 2017 order by President Donald Trump requiring heightened vetting for visa applicants, according to a State Department official.

Applying for US visa? Visitors will now have to hand over social media details

The change, which was proposed in March 2018, is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year.

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"National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening," the department said.

"We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," reports AFP.

Social media, email and phone number histories had only been sought in the past from applicants who were identified for extra scrutiny, such as people who'd traveled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations. An estimated 65,000 applicants per year had fallen into that category.

The new visa application forms list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

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