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You Need a Superhuman Memory to Fill Out Trump's New Visa Survey

Some applicants will have to provide 15 years of detailed info on travel, residency, and employment—plus their social media handles and email addresses.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo via Flickr user Andrew Pilloud

President Trump's administration just introduced a new questionnaire for certain visa applicants seeking entry to the US, and unless you're a cyborg or happen to have a photographic memory, filling it out could prove insanely difficult.

To complete the three-page survey, applicants need 15 years worth of details on every trip they've taken out of their native country, every address they've called home, every job they've worked, and every passport number they've been issued, Reuters reports. Plus, they're asked to provide all the social media handles and email addresses they've used going back five years—yes, even the embarrassing ones.


"Such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting," a State Department official told Reuters.

According to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget, the new questionnaire is aimed at applicants who "have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities." But consular officials have full discretion, with virtually no oversight, over who gets slapped with the survey.

Education and immigration experts have slammed the new measure, arguing the burdensome survey will dissuade international students and scientists from visiting the US—not to mention lengthen already brutal processing times. They claim applicants could be denied for misremembering simple details, like an old email address or phone number from ten years ago.

And if you're a student in Europe, where international travel is quick and cheap, trying to remember the details of every time you've left the country in the past 15 years—where you went, how long you stayed, and how you paid for it—is going to be a nightmare. Especially considering you've got to cram all that information into this tiny box:

As attorney Babak Yousefzadeh told Reuters, there's no clear-cut reason consular officials should have such "arbitrary power" over who's subjected to the new measure.

"The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world," Yousefzadeh told Reuters. "The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear."

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