May 16, 2017
Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan
During his presidential campaign, President Trump made repeated promises to conduct “extreme vetting” of all non-citizens applying for admission into the U.S. On May 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) released its proposal for “extreme vetting” measures, which will apply to “immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.” These measures include gathering of the following information:
- Social media platforms and handles used during the last 5 years (but not passwords or other attempts to circumvent an individual’s privacy settings)
- 15 years’ worth of employment history
- 15 years’ worth of addresses
- 15 years’ worth of international (and in some cases domestic) travel history, including source of funding for travel
- Names and dates of birth for all children, siblings, and current or former spouses or civil or domestic partners
- Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last 5 years
- All of the applicant’s passport numbers and country/countries of issuance
The information may be gathered electronically, in writing, or in person at a consular interview. Failure to provide all the requested information does not necessarily lead to a denial if the applicant provides a credible explanation and the consular officer has enough information to determine the applicant’s visa eligibility.
Although DOS estimates that only about 65,000 applicants (0.5 percent of all applicants) will be affected by the more rigorous standards, the criteria for who will be subject to extreme vetting is not clear and will involve some discretion on the part of individual consular officers. However, the practice of extreme vetting will very likely lengthen visa processing times for all applicants, even those who are not subjected to heightened review.
The proposal is open to public comment until May 18. If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, it will apply for 180 days.
If you have questions about how these developments may affect your visa application, please contact the attorneys at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan.