U.S. Visa Application Questions

People applying for a visa to enter the United States have to answer these questions (among others):

Have you ever been arrested of convicted for any offense or crime, even through subject of a pardon, amnesty or other similar legal action? Have you ever unlawfully distributed or sold a controlled substance (drug), or been a prostitute or procurer for prostitutes?


Did you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State? Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government or Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?

Certainly, anyone who is a terrorist or drug dealer wouldn’t worry about lying on his visa application. So, what’s the point of these questions? I used to think it was so that if someone is convicted of one of these activities he can also be convicted of visa-application fraud…but I’m not sure that explanation makes any sense.

Anyone have any better ideas? What is the security benefit of asking these questions?

Posted on September 25, 2006 at 7:26 AM

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.