New challenges in US visa application process 

By Garth A. Rose

US officials have approved a new questionnaire form which some applicants for US visas are required to complete when submitting their applications at consulates.

Under the new federal immigration policy, consular officers can request visa applicants to complete the additional questionnaire (Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants).

The new questionnaire requires applicants to provide information related to:

All social media handles used during the past five years; Phone numbers and email addresses used over the past five years; Fifteen years of travel history, with detail on the sources of funding for your travel; Fifteen years of address and employment history; Details on all passport numbers held, along with country of issuance; Names, dates of birth for all siblings and children; and names, dates of births of all current and former spouses.

Weston-based immigration attorney, Caroly Pedersen, told National Weekly it’s estimated that likely only 0.5 percent of travelers (roughly 65,000 people annually) will be selected for further immigration scrutiny.

State Department officials say in order to implement the federal government’s goal of “extreme vetting”, Consular officers are authorized to request this additional voluntary information, when they believe “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.”

However, while completing the form is voluntary, applicants who refuse to provide the information will likely have their visa applications denied. Proponents of additional vetting measures argue that it’s a step in the right direction to protect Americans. However, Pedersen and other opponents argue innocent travelers will be put on the spot to remember every trip they took in the past 15 years, social media site they registered for, and used in the past 5-years.

Opponents also believe requesting more information will inevitably increase consular waiting times and cause visa processing delays.

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