Do you have a social media presence? If you’re applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, the Department of State wants to know—and they want details.
Completing the DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) is the first step for applying for a nonimmigrant visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy. Applicants are required to fill out the online form on the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center website. If the DS-160 is not satisfactorily completed and submitted, it is not possible to move forward with any requisite next steps, such as making an appointment for an interview.
On May 31, 2019, a new subsection entitled “Social Media” appeared on the Department of State’s DS-160 online form. The question is, “Do you have a social media presence?” Instructions are provided:
“Select from the list below each social media platform you have used within the last five years. In the space next to the platform’s name, enter the username or handle you have used on that platform. Please do not provide your passwords. If you have used more than one platform or more than one username or handle on a single platform, click the ‘Add Another’ button to list each one separately. If you have not used any of the listed social media platforms in the last five years, select ‘None.’”
The drop-down menu that follows includes 20 social media platforms, ranging from ubiquitous to relatively obscure: ASK.FM, Douban, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, Qzone (QQ), Reddit, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Tumblr, Twitter, Twoo, Vine, Vkontakte (VK), Youku, and YouTube.
A response is required and the user’s ability to complete and submit the form is disabled until one is provided; there is no way to opt out completely. Should an applicant falsely select “None,” the immigration consequences could be serious, depending on how the Consulate/Embassy classifies the omission.
Some of the social media platforms may sound unfamiliar but are popular with international audiences. Five of the platforms are widely used in China, including Douban, Qzone (QQ), Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku. Vkontakte (VK) is an online social media and social networking service based in Russia.
A recent announcement was posted on the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center website letting users know that the DS-160 page would be undergoing maintenance on Thursday, May 30, expected to be completed between 4 and 11pm. Apologies were offered to any visa applicants experiencing technical difficulties with their DS-160 during that time. The question regarding social media was not included on the online form prior to May 30.
Serotte Reich is continuing to monitor any new developments or changes to the nonimmigrant visa process. If you need assistance with your application, please contact our office.
Above is a screenshot of the DS-160 online form’s new question about social media accounts.