How Social Media Use Can Affect Legal Admissibility to the U.S.
Foreign nationals who are applying for visas at consulates in foreign countries must disclose certain information related to their use of social media. As of 2019, the forms for both non-immigrant visas and immigrant visas contain questions related to social media use. These questions do not apply to foreign nationals who are pursuing adjustment of status or seeking temporary visas while already living legally in the U.S.
Applicants must provide the social media accounts and usernames that they have used in the last five years. For example, they would need to provide this information for any Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts that they hold. However, they do not need to provide passwords for these accounts.
A visa applicant will not be penalized for not having any social media accounts, but they may be denied if they are found to be lying about not having social media accounts.
Why USCIS Reviews Social Media
The additional questions related to social media use are designed to identify threats to national security, especially those related to terrorism or other violent activities. Thus, foreign nationals who are hoping to obtain legal status in the U.S. should try to avoid posting content that suggests involvement with terrorism or gang violence. Even comments that are meant to be ironic or sarcastic could be misinterpreted, leading to the denial of a visa application or unnecessary delays.
Information on social media also may be evaluated for other grounds of inadmissibility. If your posts show that you were involved in criminal activity, your application could be denied on that basis, even if the activity is not related to terrorism or violence. Anything that suggests that the applicant lied on their visa application may result in a denial of the application. If your Facebook account shows that you work for a different company than the company that is allegedly sponsoring you, you might not receive an employment-based visa for that reason.
Possible Precautions to Take
Before you apply for a visa, you should review any social media accounts for questionable activity from the last five years. You can delete content if you think that it might cause suspicions or misinterpretations. Another step to consider involves enhancing the privacy settings on your social media accounts. By restricting access to your account, you may be able to block immigration authorities from reviewing content on it. This is because you do not need to reveal passwords for your accounts on the visa application.
On the other hand, you should not deliberately falsify information on a social media account. You also should not fail to report social media accounts on your application. If this is discovered, it could result in being denied entry to the U.S. based on immigration fraud.