US Preps Social Media Checks for Visa Applicants

There could be long queues in store for US visa applicants after it was revealed the Trump administration is gearing up to enforce mandatory social media and other checks on anyone who has traveled to a country now controlled by ISIS.

Leaked memos sent from secretary of state Rex Tillerson to embassy bosses apparently reveal a range of new “extreme vetting” measures promised by Trump on the campaign trail.

These include co-ordinating with law enforcement and intelligence operatives to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.”

They also order a “mandatory social media check" for any applicant who has ever been to a country now controlled by the Islamic State.

That could create significant extra workload for officials, delay applications and raise the risk of visas being processed based on nationality and religion rather than the level of threat posed to the US, experts told Reuters.

The memos apparently also reveal some furious back-peddling for Tillerson and the Trump administration following court decisions challenging large parts of two presidential Executive Orders which would have banned immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

Trump’s EOs aren’t just causing chaos at the US border: they’re also causing concern among allies.

The Enhancing Public Safety order – basically an attempt to clamp down on illegal immigrants – rang alarm bells inside Europe after some suggested it could put in jeopardy the Privacy Shield data transfer agreement between the US and EU.

The European Commission said it’s monitoring the situation after it was revealed that the order states privacy protections won’t be extended beyond US citizens or residents.

It’s not been a stellar start to the Trump administration’s four-year term, with FBI boss James Comey last week confirming the agency is investigating possible collusion with Russian officials in the run-up to the presidential election.

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