Speed Reads

Immigration

Visa applicants will now face social media background checks

Want to come to America? Get your Twitter handle ready. The White House on Thursday approved a harsher visa vetting procedure that, among other changes, includes social media scrutiny.

Applicants are asked to provide "your unique user name for any websites or applications you have used to create or share content (photos, videos, status updates, etc.) as part of a public profile within the last five years." Officially, compliance is voluntary, but refusal can affect whether or how quickly an application is processed.

Critics have argued the new screening will function in practice as means of unfair discrimination. "What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion," said Jay Gairson, an immigration attorney who spoke with Reuters when the proposal was floated earlier this year.