Pause before Posting – Social Media Collection by U.S. Immigration

On May 31, 2019, the U.S. Department of State updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from U.S. visa applicants worldwide.

For applicants seeking entry into the United States, they should think twice about using social media as a platform to speak freely about social, political and economic topics as their accounts will be watched and reviewed by the U.S. government in deciding visa issuance or cancellation.

Unfortunately, the State Department has offered little detail about precisely how it will use the millions of identifiers that it is collecting. According to the department’s regulatory filings, consular officers could look at social-media accounts to round out other information about an applicant.

What is a social media handle/identifier? 

A social media “handle” or “identifier” is any name used by the individual on social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The updated visa application forms list the specific social media platforms for which identifiers are being requested.

What is the U.S. looking for, and what do they plan to do with my information? 

The U.S. is looking solely for social media identifiers. Consular officers will not request user passwords. The information will be used, as all information provided during a visa interview and on the visa application, to determine if the applicant is eligible for a visa under existing U.S. law.

What if applicants participate in multiple online platforms? Are they being asked to list all of their handles, or only one? 

Applicants must provide all identifiers used for all listed platforms.

What if the visa applicant doesn’t have a social media account? 

A response to the questions related to social media will be required. Visa applicants who have never used social media will not be refused on the basis of failing to provide a social media identifier, and the form does allow the applicant to respond with “None.” Applicants should complete the application as fully and honestly as possible to avoid any delays in processing. Failure to provide accurate and truthful responses on a visa application or during a visa interview may result in denial of the visa by a consular officer. In the case of an applicant who has used any of the social media platforms listed on the visa application in the preceding five years, the associated social media identifier would be required on the visa application form.

For more information on Social Media Collection by U.S. Immigration,

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