Have you heard the news?
The US Embassy now requires US visa applicants to disclose their social media presence and list down all the platforms that they are using or have used in the past five years. And although they will not ask you for your password, you will be required to provide your username so they can easily find your online pages.
US Visa applications may now be done and submitted online. If you have done this before, you know that there are a series of questions you need to satisfy to establish your identity and purpose for visiting the US. We accessed the US embassy’s application portal and indeed, have discovered that they have added a section where you can indicate all the social media accounts you have under your name.
Below is the actual question that was added after you have provided your personal information:
Do you have social media presence? Select from the list below each social media platform you have used within the last 5 years. In the space next to the platform’s name, enter the username or handle you have used on that platform. Please do not provide your passwords. If you have used more than one platform or more than one username or handle on a single platform, click the ‘Add Another’ button to list each one separately. If you have not used any of the listed social media platforms in the last 5 years, select ‘None.’
Which social media platforms do they recognize?
At first glance, you would think that all possible sites and apps where you have created an account and interact with other people, may be considered as social media. However, the US Embassy has streamlined the selection so that you only choose among the following:
- Qzone (QQ)
- Sina Weibo,
- Tencent Weibo
What will they do with the information they see in my social media account? Are there exemptions to the new policy?
First off, the new policy will be implemented for both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications. Only applicants for diplomatic and official visas are exempted from the rule.
According to the US State Department, the social media identifiers is part of the extensive security screening that all prospective traveler and immigrant to the US need to undergo. However, they have yet to confirm if this is implemented across the world.
Personal tips and thoughts on this new policy:
How badly do you need (or want) to get a US visa?
99% of readers will most likely say, badly. So aside from making sure that you have all the necessary documents ready for your application, you now also need to prepare the list of social media accounts you maintain. I created a personal checklist for this specific preparation and I hope you find this useful:
- Check all your social media accounts and make sure that you have the correct usernames and passwords.
- Login to all of these accounts just to be sure that your username is correct and your passwords are updated.
- Review your feed for any negative or derogatory posts, anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Should you delete those? I would.
- As much as you can, use your real name as your username. Avoid inverting the spelling of your name (e.g. ellehcar for Rachelle… because why?). If your username is a bit off (dark, intimidating, difficult to pronounce, etc.) you might want to consider changing it for the sake of your US visa application.
- Use a recent photo as your profile picture. Make sure it clearly shows your face and that you are dressed modestly in it.
Please share your thoughts on this new policy from the US Embassy. We’d love to hear from you.