LawQuest US Immigration Alert - New Security Checks to be Implemented for US Visas

New Security Checks to be Implemented for US Visas

The Trump administration will implement new security checks for certain US visa applicants.  US consular officers have been directed to increase their scrutiny before granting visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.  

The US Secretary of State sent diplomatic cables to all American embassies on the implementation of Trump’s recent Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, instructing visa officers to step up the screening of visa applicants at the consulate posts. The March 17, 2017 cable instructs consular posts to take all possible precautions to refuse a visa case or send it for further security clearance if an officer believes that the applicant raises a security concern.

An applicant could be subject to increased scrutiny by asking him to provide details of his travel history, addresses and work history for as far back as 15 years and social media handles used by him in the last 5 years, among other things (The US State Department is yet to receive authorization for this line of questioning from the Office of Management and Budget).

The March 17th cable also directs all consulate chiefs to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to "develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny."  Any applicant falling within one of these identified population groups would be subject to heightened scrutiny.

These enhanced security measures are being taken by the US government in an effort to protect the country against terrorist attacks.  Also, US law makers on both sides of the party aisles are calling for wider social media screening of foreign nationals arguing that such checks could help identify any links to terrorist activity.


By Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate


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