US border officials will examine 5 years' worth of visa-seekers' social media posts

The new questionnaire that US visa applicants have to fill in requires them to supply biographical information stretching back 15 years and all their social media handles for the past 5 years.

Just a note: my first application for a US O-1 visa ran 600 pages. The first renewal ran 900 pages. The second renewal ran 1200 pages. This is the current level of scrutiny applied to visa-seekers. The idea that people just waltz into the USA to live or work is, frankly, absurd.

But if you leave off just one phone number you've had in the past 15 years -- like, did you try out Google Voice for ten minutes and then decide it wasn't for you? -- you can have your visa denied, or revoked, at any time.

Immigration lawyers and advocates say the request for 15 years of detailed biographical information, as well as the expectation that applicants remember all their social media handles, is likely to catch applicants who make innocent mistakes or do not remember all the information requested.

The new questions grant "arbitrary power" to consular officials to determine who gets a visa with no effective check on their decisions, said Babak Yousefzadeh, a San Francisco-based attorney and president of the Iranian American Bar Association.

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

Trump administration approves tougher visa vetting, including social media checks [Yeganeh Torbati/Reuters]