Notice of request for emergency OMB approval and public comment.
The Department of State has submitted the information collection request described below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the emergency review procedures of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The purpose of this notice is to allow for public comment from all interested individuals and organizations. Emergency review and approval of this collection has been requested from OMB by May 18. If granted, the emergency approval is only valid for 180 days.
Direct any comments on this emergency request to both the Department of State Desk Officer in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office.
All public comments must be received by May 18.
You may submit comments to OMB by the following methods:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You must include the DS form number (if applicable), information collection title, and OMB control number in the subject line of your message.
Fax: 202-395-5806. Attention: Desk Officer for Department of State.
You may submit comments to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office by the following methods:
- You may submit comments to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office by the following methods:
Web: Persons with access to the Internet may comment on this notice by going to www.Regulations.gov. You can search for the document by entering “Docket Number: DOS-2017-0019” in the Search field. Then click the “Comment Now” button and complete the comment form.
Email: PRA_BurdenComments@state.gov. You must include Emergency Submission Comment on “Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants” in the subject line of your message.
You must include the DS form number (if applicable) information collection title, and the OMB control number in any correspondence.
Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Direct requests for additional information regarding the collection listed in this notice, including requests for copies of the proposed collection instrument and supporting documents to PRA_BurdenComments@state.gov.
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Start Supplemental Information
Title of Information Collection: Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants.
OMB Control Number: New.
Type of Request: Emergency Review.Start Printed Page 20957
Originating Office: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office (CA/VO).
Form Number: DS-5535.
Respondents: Immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.
Estimated Number of Respondents: 65,000 respondents.
Estimated Number of Responses: 65,000 responses.
Average Time per Response: 60 minutes.
Total Estimated Burden Time: 65,000 annual hours.
Frequency: Once per respondent's application.
Obligation to Respond: Required to Obtain or Retain a Benefit.
We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department to:
- Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper functions of the Department.
- Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the time and cost burden of this proposed collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used.
- Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected.
- Minimize the reporting burden on those who are to respond, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Please note that comments submitted in response to this Notice are public records. Before including any detailed personal information, you should be aware that your comments as submitted, including your personal information, will be available for public review.
Abstract of Proposed Collection
The Department proposes requesting the following information, if not already included in an application, from a subset of visa applicants worldwide, in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities:
- Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
- Address history during the last fifteen years;
- Employment history during the last fifteen years;
- All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
- Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
- Name and dates of birth for all children;
- Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
- Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
- Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.
Most of this information is already collected on visa applications but for a shorter time period, e.g. five years rather than fifteen years. Requests for names and dates of birth of siblings and, for some applicants, children are new. The request for social media identifiers and associated platforms is new for the Department of State, although it is already collected on a voluntary basis by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for certain individuals. Regarding travel history, applicants may be requested to provide details of their international or domestic (within their country of nationality) travel, if it appears to the consular officer that the applicant has been in an area while the area was under the operational control of a terrorist organization as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi). Applicants may be asked to recount or explain the details of their travel, and when possible, provide supporting documentation.
This information collection implements the directive of the President, in the Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security of March 6, 2017, to implement additional protocols and procedures focused on “ensur[ing] the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability, or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.” Consular posts worldwide regularly engage with law enforcement and intelligence community partners to identify sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny. The additional information collected will facilitate consular officer efforts to immediately apply more rigorous evaluation of these applicants for potential visa ineligibilities. In accordance with existing authorities, visas may not be denied on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, political views, gender, or sexual orientation.
The estimated number of respondents represents the estimate of relevant State Department officials that 0.5% of U.S. visa applicants worldwide, or in the range of 65,000 individuals per annum, will present a threat profile, based on individual circumstances and information they provide, that will lead U.S. consular officers at posts around the world to conclude the applicant warrants enhanced screening that takes into account the information that is proposed to be collected. The estimate will be updated in the next request to continue collecting the information based on experience reported by overseas posts. Failure to provide requested information will not necessarily result in visa denial, if the consular officer determines the applicant has provided a credible explanation why he or she cannot answer a question or provide requested supporting documentation, such that the consular officer is able to conclude that the applicant has provided adequate information to determine the applicant's eligibility to receive the visa. The collection of social media platforms and identifiers will not be used to deny visas based on applicants' race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, political views, gender, or sexual orientation.
Department of State consular officers at visa-adjudicating posts worldwide will ask the proposed additional questions to resolve an applicant's identity or to vet for terrorism or other national security related visa ineligibilities when the consular officer determines that the circumstances of a visa applicant, a review of a visa application, or responses in a visa interview indicate a need for greater scrutiny. The additional questions may be sent electronically to the applicant or be presented orally or in writing at the time of the interview. Consular officers will not request user passwords and will not attempt to subvert any privacy controls the applicants may have implemented on social media platforms. Consular officers are directed not to engage or interact with individuals on or through social media; not to violate or attempt to violate individual privacy settings; and not to use social media or assess an individual's social media presence beyond established Department guidance.
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David T. Donahue,
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 2017-08975 Filed 5-3-17; 8:45 am]
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