ESTA Application Revisions to Include Mandatory Social Media Collection

December 14, 2021

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a 60-day notice and request for comments on revisions to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for Visa Waiver Program travelers. Specifically, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is amending the ESTA application to change social media collection from optional to mandatory. CBP also will begin collecting biometric data for identity confirmation on ESTA applications. ESTA applicants will be prompted to take a selfie or “live” photo “to conduct a ‘liveness’ test to determine if the ESTA application is interfacing with a physically present human being and not an inanimate object, or if it is a photo of someone other than the lawful passport holder.” Respondents will be able to scan their passport biographic page to submit biographic information, including passport photo.

CBP will also implement the ESTA mobile application for Visa Waiver Program travelers. The mobile app will collect biometric data.