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June 2, 2017updated 05 Jun 2017 10:45am

US visa applicants must declare their social media usernames as part of new vetting process

People applying for a US visa will will have to go through a far more thorough vetting process, under plans announced by the Trump administration on Thursday.

US president Donald Trump has promised to increase national security and improve border protections across the country.

As part of a new questionnaire, consular officials can now ask visa applicants for their usernames on social media from the last five years.

Applicants may also have to disclose 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.

A State Department official said:

Officials will request the additional information when they determine “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.

Around 0.5 percent of visa applicants are expected to be given the extensive questionnaire.

The questionnaire gives “arbitrary power” to consular officials according to Babak Yousefzadeh, a San Francisco-based attorney and president of the Iranian American Bar Association told Reuters.

She said:

The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world. The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear.

The new questionnaire applies specifically to visa applicants not using the visa waiver program (VWP).

The VWP enables citizens or nationals of most countries, excluding Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan to travel to the US for tourism or business purposes.

Stays must be 90 days or less.

Asking job applicants for their social media logins was banned in two US states, Maryland and Illinois in August 2012.