US's Tillerson to visit Turkey before North Atlantic Treaty Organisation talks

US ordered 'mandatory social media check' for visa applicants who visited ISIS territory

According to the New York Times, last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instructed consular officials at all American embassies to broadly increase their scrutiny, marking the first evidence of the "extreme vetting" that was one of President Donald Trump's campaign promises.

President Trump promised on the campaign trail to establish "extreme vetting", on people entering the USA, and this measure appears to be a step towards that pledge. The memos direct consular officials to identify "populations warranting increased scrutiny" and to put applicants from these populations through more rigorous questioning.

Advocates and immigration lawyers said the guidance could lead to visa applicants being profiled on the basis of nationality or religion rather than because they pose an actual threat to the U.S.

Following successful legal challenges to an earlier, more sweeping travel ban signed by Trump in January, the White House issued a narrower version of the ban earlier this month. The memos were part of Tillerson's plan to implement Trump's revised executive order on banning Muslims, which was frozen in federal court in Hawaii hours before it was supposed to go into effect on March 16.

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USA diplomatic missions across the globe are ordered to identify "populations warranting increased scrutiny", which includes a check-up on social media history in what is an otherwise broad and labor-demanding screening process. "All visa decisions are national security decisions".

"Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns", Tillerson wrote in the cable.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend a rescheduled meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance's 28 foreign ministers after coming under fire for saying he would miss the event because it conflicted with his schedule.

The cable anticipates the new requirements may cause backlogs in visa processing.

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The message also instructed USA posts overseas to review the social media accounts of visa applicants who are suspected of terrorist ties or of having been in Islamic State group-controlled areas.

Subsequently, it will be verified if the visa applicant has ever been in territory controlled by the Islamic State.

Chen criticised the Tillerson's orders by asking how a single interviewer can improve security for the visa process if he takes 120 interviews every day and spend five minutes on each one of them.

The Associated Press and Reuters obtained copies of the cable, which State Department sources verified for NBC News.

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