AACRAO Raises Concerns About Proposed Visa Vetting Changes

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department published a notice in the Federal Register that aims to change the visa vetting process to subject certain applicants to enhanced questioning. The agency's proposal calls for ten additional categories of data to be collected for an undefined subset of visa applicants "to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities."

The supplemental information request would include:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  • Address history during the last fifteen years;
  • Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  • Name and dates of birth for all children;
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years;
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years

AACRAO, along with 54 partner associations, sent a letter to the State Department registering numerous concerns with the proposed additional requirements for visa seekers. The groups argue that the changes to the visa vetting process are likely to have a chilling effect not only on those required to submit additional information, but indirectly on all international travelers to the United States. The data collection could lead to unacceptably long delays in processing and negatively impact the ability of students and scholars to obtain visas for study in the U.S. this fall. Additionally, AACRAO issued concern about the lack of information regarding the longer-term use, retention, or privacy protections for the information provided.

 

Related Links

Comments regarding the Notice of Information Collection under OMB Emergency Review: Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants (DS-5535)