The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may now review a visa applicant’s social media accounts. An individual’s online content can go through a review process to see if he or she poses a national security risk. 

Revised visa applications contain requests for usernames and account handles. Hopeful visitors and immigrants must list them and also include any prior email addresses and phone numbers, as reported by AP News. Applicants must provide their online user information for the past five years. 

Content review for accuracy and threats 

About 15 million individuals traveling to the U.S. each year could find their internet posts under review. Videos, photos and a list of contacts may help verify whether an applicant’s information is accurate. 

USCIS agents may use the reviewed online content to verify that the individual’s work, home or school information matches the pictures posted online. When a student has posted online content that reflects studying and academic goals, it can help agents to verify that he or she hopes to visit the U.S. for educational reasons. Reviewing social media contents may also help agents determine if the information provided is a case of identity theft. 

Automated software may initially review contents for information that appears harmful. Programmed keywords or terms could enable a quick automated search and retrieve specific information. An agent reviewing political contents might, however, interpret them as a threat. This could cause a delay in the application process. 

Applicants who may require additional review 

Every year, applications from about 65,000 individuals require an additional review. These applicants must typically disclose any other countries they visited recently. Traveling from a high-risk country that the U.S. placed on a watch list may require additional vetting of an applicant’s online posts. 

An important part of the approval process 

The type of visa application required depends on an individual’s purpose for visiting the U.S. Whether for work, studying or visiting relatives, providing accurate and detailed application information plays an important role in the approval process.