For a few days now there have been new requirements when applying for a visa for the USA!
First of all: Currently, tourists from 38 countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program have the option, but are not required, to list social media accounts on the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form. For ESTA visitors it remains voluntary.
As of Friday, May 31, the new U.S. Department of State directive went into effect. The latter stipulates that anyone who has to fill out a Ds-160, Ds-260 and Ds-156 form in order to move or travel to the USA is obliged to provide the social network profiles that they have used in recent years used online for five years. In the past, only those subject to greater scrutiny (e.g. those from a country controlled by terrorist groups) were required to provide information.
Currently the approval forms affected by the new obligation are:
- The DS-160 Form: The online form for non-immigrants
- The DS-156 Form: Trade and Investor Visa
- The DS-260 Form: The online form for immigrants
In summary, anyone preparing to apply for a visa to the United States must provide social media account information used in the last five years. Without this information, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department will not review the visa application. There are currently around 20 platforms listed in the electronic forms that must be completed to obtain a visa. Including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Ask.fm, Pinterest, Google+ (now closed), etc.
In particular, certain types of visas are exempt from the obligation, for example the diplomatic type.
This news is the result of the executive order approved by Donald Trump in March 2017 to protect the nation from the entry of foreign terrorists into the United States. The latter had asked that the online presence of travelers be analyzed more closely.
Thanks to communication via personal social media, US authorities can control every aspect of the digital existence of people who need a US visa: profile information, photos, posts, videos, shared images, etc. Only after checking this information do they decide whether they accept the application to enter the United States and wish to remain there for a certain period of time. According to one estimate, around 15 million people will be affected by this new legislation every year.
Important: German, Swiss and Austrian citizens and citizens of all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program ("travel without a visa" program) and preparing for a trip to the USA that lasts less than 90 days are not obliged to submit their to share your own data from your social media accounts. In this case, it is enough to obtain electronic authorization from Esta, with which you can enter the USA without a visa.
Therefore, if you are planning a trip to New York that does not exceed 90 days, you will not be affected by the new obligation that came into force a few days ago. For you, providing social media accounts in the Esta request is optional. At least for now!