New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Your Social Media Now Will Be Reviewed By Consul

Author: US Visa Attorney Alena Shautsova

Social media reviewed

Recently, the US government added a new question to the non-immigrant and immigrant visa application forms: the question invites you to share the email addresses and social media accounts you used for the past five years. Note that only the names of the accounts/profiles are required, not the passwords. The new questions also ask for the phone numbers an applicant used for the past five years.

It can be expected that untruthful answer to these questions, just like to any other questions will cause denials with the potential long-life inadmissibility consequences related to charges of misrepresentation or fraud.

Most likely, the information that is of interest would be the one that may make one inadmissible based on security grounds, criminal grounds, and grounds related to fraud/misrepresentation. It is unclear how this information will be evaluated and if the denials will specify that the source of the adverse finding was based on social media or phone-number related information. Another issue with social media is that at times, the profiles can have nicknames and false names, and identity can be plainly stolen. Let’s say someone claims that he works for you on social media and you were not successful in removing that statement from the social media platform, so it seems that that person is associated with you; at the same time that person is advocating for something that may be viewed by the US government as a threat to national security, and you are "tagged" or referenced in those posts. One can imagine, such a situation may cause a lot of headaches, and worse: you may not know about it until the interview or denial.

The add-on of these questions is very new and we will need to see further to ascertain the impact of these changes. It is also unclear what will happen in case of “private profiles”: the ones that are not discoverable during an online search and are available for review to “friends” only. Perhaps, an applicant for a US visa may be forced to acquire a couple of "new friends" during the process...

10 June 2019
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