New National Vetting Center for US Visitors

In support of the extreme vetting of visitors to the United States advocated by the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Justice department and other intelligence agencies is setting up a National Vetting Center. This is with an intention to streamline vetting of all visitors coming into the US and improve the flow of information between various federal agencies.

Travelers today are already put through additional rounds of security screenings, criminal background checks and faced with periodic restrictions on liquids and electronic bans. While this new Vetting Center may not necessarily affect the incoming traveler directly, it will still potentially mean that his travel document, be it a visa or the ticket itself is shrouded with additional procedures and paperwork. For example, travelers are faced with revealing their social media handles before getting a visa or reveal their email password to the security officer at the airport before boarding a flight. So far, the National Vetting Center is expected to focus on visa applicants, and immigrants entering the US. This is not however, restricted to travelers alone. This National Vetting Center may also evaluate the vetting of people already in the US.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also announced similar procedures being implemented within their system that will increase vetting of refugees’ families who are joining their family member who was the principal refugee. Previously, it was only the principal refugee who applied for asylum and the family, i.e. spouse and child later joined him. However, now with the strengthened procedures in place, USCIS expects to conduct the full baseline interagency screening and vetting checks that other refugees receive. The following-to-join refugees will now have to do each of their own individual paperwork. USCIS will also be vetting certain nationals or stateless persons against classified databases.

The details of these new procedures should be clearer in the coming six months when it will be executed more concretely. In the meantime, if you are planning on visiting the US and looking to see what it takes, check out the B2 step-by-step guide on how to get a visitors’ visa to the US.