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DHS Proposes New Rule to Collect Social Media Information from Immigrant Applicants

The Department of Homeland Security proposed a new rule to collect five years of social media history from applicants of certain immigration benefits, including the following applications:

  • ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and Form I-94WNonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record for Visa Waiver Program travelers;
  • EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System) for Chinese nationals traveling to the U.S. as business visitors or tourists;
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, used to apply for advance parole and reentry permits, among other benefits;
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status for those applying for a green card through USCIS;
  • Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence for certain marriage-based green card beneficiaries;
  • Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status for EB-5 green card beneficiaries; and
  • Form N-400 naturalization applications.

This move comes after DHS has added the social media question to DS160s and DS260 forms. For more information, please click here. The State Department have stated that the social media information will be used to validate the applicant’s identity, they will check the information on your social media to check if the applicant is eligible for visas, if the applicant is associated with terrorist activities or will threat the U.S. in some way. Social media information for diplomatic and official visa applicants will not be asked.

Applicants should always provide truthful information on visa application forms, any misrepresentation will be considered to be fraud and can result in a permanent bar from the country. Please keep in mind that even if you delete the account before applying for the visa, the question is asking for social media information in the last five years. Information on the internet can be cached in places and deleting the account doesn’t guarantee that all information on it will also be deleted.

The proposed rule does not have any immediate impact on applications, but applicants should expect to see new editions of the above forms including the new questions soon.

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