New Delhi :
All applicants for US visas will now have to provide their social media details, previous email addresses and phone numbers under new rules by the State Department.
According to the new regulations, people headed to US will have to submit usernames of social media accounts that they have used during the past five years.
Earlier, only applicants who needed additional vetting - such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups - would need to hand over these data.
However, people travelling to the US to work or to study will have to hand over their information, the BBC reported.
"We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," the department reportedly said.
When proposed last year, authorities estimated the proposal would affect 14.7 million people annually. Certain diplomatic and official visa applicants will be exempt from the stringent new measures.
Anyone who lies about their social media use could face "serious immigration consequences", according to an official.
US President Donald Trump, who made cracking down on immigration a key plank of his election campaign in 2016, first proposed the rules in March 2018.
He called for "extreme vetting" of immigrants before and during his time in office.
At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union - a civil rights group - said there is "no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair", and said it would cause people to self-censor themselves online.
With Agency Inputs