Visa Applicants Need to Be Careful on Social Media

If you’re applying for a visa, you can make your immigration lawyer’s life easier and improve your chances of success if you think before you tweet. 

Social media is simply a fact of life in 2019, but starting on May 30, forms DS-160 and DS-260 ask visa applicants for your social media identifiers for all accounts used within the last five years. That information will enable the State Department to check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest accounts, among others—officially to help with “identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards,” according to the State Department. That will make it easier to look for discrepancies in the information provided in visa applications and interviews and evaluate applicants for potential security concerns. 

As The National Law Review points out, this question is an extension of the Trump Administration's program of "extreme vetting." When then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that this information would be collected, he said that it would apply to only 0.5 percent of the visa applicants, approximately 65,000 annually. Now that it is a part of the DS-160 and DS-260 forms, the information will be collected from approximately 15 million foreign nationals. 

Those applying for visas need to make sure that user profiles are up to date, and that are consistent with the information provided in other documents and interviews. They also need to think carefully about what they choose to post on social media and have to assume that anything they post will be scrutinized and affect their chances of success. Social media is a space that encourages us to blow off steam and respond in an off-the-cuff manner to situations in semi-friendly forums, but visa applicants need to be more patient and disciplined. 

If you have questions or concerns, consult an experienced immigration attorney--here in New Orleans or around the country--who can help evaluate your social media footprint and gauge potential damaging exposure. An experienced immigration attorney can also spot potential problems that might not be obvious and develop strategies for dealing with those problematic situations.

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