31 Jul 2019 Five years of social media required on visa application forms
Recently, the State Department revised immigrant and non-immigrant visa application forms to add a question asking a person to list each social media platform they have used within the last five years. This includes the person’s username or handle they used on that media platform. If more than one platform or username or handle has been used, the person must disclose all that information. (They do not need to provide their password.)
Among the media platforms requiring disclosure are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
Disclosing a person’s social media is part of the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban initiative and “extreme vetting,” to determine whether a person may be “inadmissible” based on terrorism related issues. According to the State Department, “Social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil.”
This means the U.S. government can now go back and check any visa applicant’s Facebook and other social media postings for the past five years. And it does no good to now close the account and delete it, because the question asks you to provide information about all social media platforms for the PAST five years. That would include accounts that were closed or deleted in the past five years.
In addition, a person may be found inadmissible based on FRAUD if they failed to disclose any of their social media platforms within the past five years.
And a review of social media may be a factor in connection not only with uncovering terrorism, but could also be a factor in connection with a person’s eligibility for various immigration benefits. For example, if a person is being petitioned by a U.S. citizen spouse, but they’re posting recent vacation photos on Facebook with their former boyfriend or girlfriend or ex-spouse, USCIS or the Embassy may be concerned about whether the marriage to the American is fixed. Similarly, if a person posted that they just got a visitor visa and they are now moving to the U.S. “permanently,” that might also be an indication of fraud which would come back to haunt them.
While people are free to use social media and post whatever they like, they should now be aware that the U.S. government is interested in what they are posting, whether it may relate to terrorism, fraud, or eligibility for any immigration benefit.
If you encounter issues with the U.S. government over your social media postings, which may have been innocent, but are being interpreted as potentially fraudulent or harmful to the U.S., you may want to seek the advice of an attorney, who can evaluate your situation and hopefully resolve it with the U.S. government.
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