Social media’s role in the immigration process

Recently, there has been an increasing emphasis put on applicants’ social media usage by the Department of State. Questions regarding applicants’ social media accounts now are included on Forms DS-160 and DS-260. Due to the fact that the emphasis on social media within the immigration application process is relatively new, there are not set rules for applicants to follow in regards to managing their social media or lack thereof. Even the act of not having social media may appear suspicious to those reviewing applications.  

However, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) lists some general ways attorneys can make sure their client’s application is not denied due to social media usage, such as encouraging clients to be truthful on the DS-160 and DS-260 forms when asked questions pertaining to social media, conducting an Internet search of the applicant to see what kind of information is readily available about them, and reviewing applicants’ social media to screen for possible criminal or otherwise suspicious activities.

In December of 2019, a case regarding the Registration Requirement, which requires all visa applicants to provide their social media accounts from the last five years, was filed by the Doc Society and International Documentary Association against the U.S. Department of State. The plaintiffs argue that the Registration Requirement violates the Administrative Procedure Act, exceeds the Secretary of State’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, and is arbitrary. By requiring immigrants to provide their social media, the plaintiffs argue applicants’ freedom of speech will be limited due to pressure felt by applicants to limit their social media usage in order to avoid their opinions voiced on social media accounts from being misconstrued. The plaintiffs also assert that the applicants’ social media information “will be retained indefinitely, disseminated widely within the U.S. government, and, in some circumstances, disclosed to foreign governments.” Not only is there concern regarding the Registration Requirement and its potential limits of free speech, the plaintiffs assert that the Registration Requirement also limits applicants’ privacy rights.

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call me at 214-494-8033, complete my contact form

Published by Ann Badmus

If you're a foreign medical graduate or medical professional who wishes to practice anywhere in the United States, Badmus & Associates can help you navigate the often complicated immigration process. You are invited to contact us at 214-494-8033 or at immigration@badmuslaw.com.

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