The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 16, 2017 9:38 am

Banks' 1st bill would inspect social media postings of visa applicants

Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

The first bill introduced by freshman Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, would require the Department of Homeland Security to review the social media activity of all foreign citizens seeking visas to enter the United States.

Banks announced Thursday he is introducing the Visa Investigation and Social Media Act of 2017, or VISA Act, in an attempt the strengthen the vetting process for immigration and travel visa applicants.

Homeland Security officials would be required to review all "publicly available social media activity" by visa applicants, such as Twitter messages, Facebook posts and photos, and YouTube videos, Banks said in a statement.

“We must have confidence that those entering our country do not intend us harm," Banks said. "Directing Homeland Security to review visa applicants’ social media before granting them access to our country is common sense. Employers vet job candidates this way, and I think it’s time we do the same for visa applicants.”

Other provisions of his bill would require Homeland Security to interview every visa applicant who is 11 years old or older, conduct a fraud-prevention check of each applicant’s documentation and require that applicants provide an English translation of their documents.

The legislation deploy a Homeland Security employee to all visa-issuing embassies and consulates and direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review and report to Congress on the visa process 18 months after its enactment, Banks said.

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