AUDIO: Minimal impact of new US visa application rules – Polacheck

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Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Joshua Polacheck at the Gleaner's Editor's Forum on Tuesday October 25, 2016. *** Local Caption *** Joshua Polacheck

The United States Embassy in Jamaica has declared that a new visa questionnaire which requires social media and more biographical information will affect only a fraction of Jamaicans.

Under the new procedures, which took effect on May 25, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years of social media handles, as well as email addresses and phone numbers.

They can also request 15 years of biographical information, including addresses, employment and travel history.

According to Joshua Polacheck, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Kingston, that research has already been done on the worldwide numbers and Jamaica’s figures are small.

“The estimate that we have out of Washington is that it will be a fraction of one per cent of the tens of millions of annual visa applicants, and similarly small numbers out of Jamaica,” he explained while speaking Monday on RJR’s Beyond the Headlines.

The impact on Jamaicans would be “very small” he declared, adding that it would only be “when there’s a question of identity that we are trying to clarify, or there’s a national security issue that we’re trying to clarify.”

Polacheck sought to defend the measures in the face of criticism that the United States already has other tools to verify identities, insisting that the measures will make the process more effective.

“It does provide an additional block of information when we’re trying to construct a decision on the visa applicant,” he said.

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