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American border officials may soon ask for social media accounts

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is asking for permission to collect social media information from certain non-immigrant visitors to the United States. Although Canadian citizens would largely be exempt from this request — which will be added as a voluntary question on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) — some Canadian residents who are citizens of other countries might be asked for this kind of information.

If the Department of Homeland Security’s request is approved, the information would be used to determine whether a traveler from one of the Visa Waiver Program countries will be permitted to enter the United States without first obtaining a visa. It would appear on the ESTA and the I-94W forms.

Citizens of a variety of countries, including Australia, Japan, and France, could be asked for information about social media accounts if they want to enter the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the information would be important “for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information.” They say that the information would enhance their investigative process by offering visibility and clarity to possible nefarious activity and nefarious connections.

At this time, it is still too early to know if the request will be approved. The United States has requested public comment regarding the proposal, which will be open until Aug. 22. Then the matter will be considered more.

Canadian residents seeking more information about their chances for entry into the United States, whether for work or pleasure, may wish to discuss the matter with an immigration lawyer to determine the best avenue for entry.

Source: CBC News, “Handle it over: U.S. wants to collect social media info from some travellers,” Haydn Watters, July 02, 2016