U.S. Government Increases Its Social Media Screening of Visa Applicants
It certainly shouldn’t be surprising to those who have been crossing the border over the past two years and have witnessed first-hand the shift in policies and practices pertaining to the admission of non-U.S. citizens. That said, not everyone is traveling frequently—and despite all the warning signs, many individuals worldwide continue to advertise their thoughts and activities on social media accounts. This poses a continued danger in gaining admissibility to the U.S., since as we all know, perception is not always reality. If a government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Department of State has reason to believe that you have committed (or will commit) an act that makes you inadmissible to the U.S., your ability to travel to America becomes markedly more difficult, or impossible. You may have to overcome perceptions and assumptions that could delay or derail your planned visitor or business activities in the States.
Actions or affiliations published online can have far-reaching—even previously unimaginable—consequences in today’s heated U.S. immigration environment. For example, take the case of the recent American reporters, attorneys and activists who were labeled “suspected organizers, coordinators, instigators, and media” warranting being pulled aside and questioned when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. CBP had also compiled dossiers on some of the 52 individuals, with the help of intelligence from Mexican officials, according to news reports.
The full list of social media platforms currently being referenced in the Department of State immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications includes the following:
- QZONE (QQ)
- SINA WEIBO
- TENCENT WEIBO
- VKONTAKTE (VK)
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