Trump Administration to implement heightened screening of visa applicants

While the Executive Order authorizing the travel ban is tied up in litigation, the Trump administration has ordered all American embassies and consulates to increase the scrutiny of all visa applicants. Released as a series of cables within the Department of State, this new scrutiny could include detailed questions on applicants' backgrounds and mandatory checks of applicants' social media history if the applicants have ever been in territory controlled by Daesh (the Islamic State). Additional scrutiny could include review of all phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles used by the visa applicant over the past five years. Another new review criterion, that of the visa applicant's work history for the prior fifteen years, has been held up pending approval of the Office of Management and Budget. 

This heightened scrutiny is likely to increase the typical waiting times for visa processing, which was acknowledged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said that this extra scrutiny would cause "backlogs to rise." Accordingly, employers and visa applicants should be aware of the risk for delays for visa processing abroad over the coming months.