Comments on “Extreme Vetting” Measures for Visas Due This Week

The State Department is considering stricter measures for vetting certain applicants for U.S. visas, which ASAE warns could discourage business travel to the United States. Public comments are due Thursday.

The State Department is considering a more aggressive vetting process for some U.S. visa applicants and is accepting public comments on the proposal until Thursday, May 18.

Under the proposed “extreme vetting” process, some visa applicants would be required  to provide their email addresses and social media information; family information; and 15 years of employment, travel, and other history, according to the Federal Register notice.

“Consular officers will not request user passwords and will not attempt to subvert any privacy controls the applicants may have implemented on social media platforms,” according to the notice.

The new requirements—which the State Department estimates would affect about 65,000 people per year, or about one-half of 1 percent of visa applicants—are related to President Trump’s travel ban, issued in January and updated in March, according to a Reuters report. While federal courts blocked parts of the order, an accompanying memorandum that requested a review of vetting procedures was not affected.

ASAE has expressed concern about the travel ban’s impact on perceptions of the U.S. as a welcoming travel destination and, in an email to members last week, raised similar reservations about more stringent vetting of visa applicants.

“ASAE is strongly supportive of appropriate screening procedures but is concerned that the changes proposed by the administration are excessive and could discourage business travel and tourism to the U.S.,” the message stated. ASAE said the wording of the Federal Register notice “is sufficiently vague to raise concern about who would be subject to the additional scrutiny.”

The notice includes instructions for submitting public comments on the proposal through Thursday.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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