We recently shared that the government is now asking visa applicants for their social media history. Applicants who wish to obtain a visa to enter the United States must disclose their social media handles for each platform they have used for the past 5 years.
We have recently learned that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now authorizes its officers to create fictitious social media accounts to investigate applicants for permanent residence and U.S. citizenship. Officers review the social media accounts of applicants flagged for additional investigation. Officers can only review publicly available social media information. They cannot “friend” or “follow” an individual. Because we have anticipated such actions, we have for many years warned clients to make sure any public information on social media sites is truthful and consistent with your immigration strategy. Such advice is now more important than ever. Hopefully, the government will not illegally use information about an applicant’s political positions against him/her. Indeed, the government’s new tactics cause a chilling effect on free speech.