Our experienced Nashville immigration attorneys explain the requirements regarding social media accounts when applying for a temporary or permanent U.S. visa.
Social media is widespread today, with various platforms to choose from. Some use it as a means of getting in touch with family and friends, while others rely on it as a source of news and entertainment. Regardless of your personal feelings about it, it is important to be aware that the consular or immigration officer determining your eligibility for a visa may review your social media in conjunction with an application for either a temporary or permanent visa. Our experienced Nashville immigration attorneys explain more about social media policies when filing a U.S. visa application and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
Social Media Requirements When Applying for A U.S. Visa
There are two types of visas available through the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs—temporary (i.e., “nonimmigrant”) and permanent (“immigrant”) visas. One of the first things you need to know about obtaining either is that when applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, listing social media accounts is required as part of the application process.
The requirement for a visa applicant to list social media accounts is a controversial policy that began under the Trump administration. According to a 2022 Washington Post report, many thought it would be overturned when President Biden took office. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In fact, the current president expanded the requirement. While you do not have to provide passwords, you do need to submit usernames or handles for any social media accounts you have, which is used for the following purposes:
- To verify your identity;
- To obtain additional background information;
- To provide more details on your activities;
- To ensure you have no ulterior motives, such as being a part of a terrorist organization.
Protecting Your Rights When it Comes to Social Media and Your Visa Application
U.S. State Department visa application policies require applicants to provide social media information from over two dozen platforms stretching back five years. Information obtained could work against you. For example, if a consular officer saw that a person was posting about employment while he or she was in the United States on a tourist visa could result in the denial of renewal of that visa or change of status, if the history gave the officer the belief that the person was violating the terms and conditions of his or her nonimmigrant status, such as by working without authorization. Posts involving criminal activity or the use of drugs—even drugs that may be legal under state law but remain criminal under federal law—may also be used against the applicant. On the other hand, posts showing an applicant with his or her spouse may be favorable evidence of the existence of a bona fide marriage, if the visa application is based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
To protect yourself and your rights in this situation, some suggest the following precautions:
- Review your privacy settings and make sure accounts are ‘friends only,’ limiting public access;
- Set up restrictions to prevent friends or family from tagging you in posts or photos;
- Avoid posting content that is highly personal, involving illegal activity, or about controversial subjects;
- Review posts on existing accounts for the past five years for anything that could be seen as suspicious on your visa application;
- Do not post false information about yourself or engineer content specifically for your visa application.
Reach Out to Our Nashville Immigration Attorneys
Social media is just one of many factors that could work for or against you in applying for a U.S. visa. To protect yourself and your rights throughout the application process, reach out to Ozment Law, PLC. Call or contact our Nashville immigration attorneys online to request a consultation today.