June 13, 2019

Department of State Adds Social Media Questions to Online Applications for Visas

On May 30, 2019, the Department of State’s (DOS) online visa applications added a question regarding social media. Specifically, DOS is requesting information on all social media platforms applicants have used for the last 5 years. Applicants are required to provide any identifiers or handles they have used on websites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube.

In light of this revision to DOS’ online visa applications, the following are some tips for using social media during the immigration process:

· Make sure that any information posted online is consistent with what you have provided to the government in the past. For example, make sure your job title on LinkedIn matches the job title on your H-1B petition or that the spouse listed on your Facebook profile matches the petitioner of your marriage-based green card application.

· Do not post derogatory, vulgar, or offensive comments, articles, pictures, or links of any kind.

· Do not post pictures or comments involving illegal or potentially illegal activities.

· Be selective with friend requests. If you don’t know the person, don’t accept the request.

· As much as possible, set your social media profiles to private in order to limit the amount of information about yourself that is available online.

· Be cognizant of the people and organizations that you follow on social media.

· Monitor the content that other users are posting to your page or profile. Remove any content that is derogatory, vulgar, offensive, illegal or that depict you in a negative way.

· Keep in mind that anything you post online can be used as evidence against you.

· Private messages aren’t always private, so be careful of what you are saying and sending in private or direct messages.

· Be mindful when geo-tagging your locations on social media.

These tips are good to keep in mind even for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, as social media is being used as evidence in more legal cases than ever before. In conclusion, be aware that nothing you post online is truly private and Department of State officers may be gathering information about you from your social media profiles.

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