What You Should Know About Proposed DOS Social Media Vetting

Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 10:35AM

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The Department of State (DOS) has proposed changes that would require applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas to provide identifying information regarding social media platforms they’ve used in the past five years. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other popular platforms.

In June 2017, the DOS introduced social media vetting for a more limited class of visa applicants. Now, the agency has proposed expanding those rules to include all applicants. The DOS also wants to reserve the right to add or remove social media platforms from applicant forms at any time, making it difficult for applicants to know ahead of time what inquiries could be made regarding their online activity.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposal, and what you can do to make sure your private information isn’t being used for nefarious purposes:

Comprehensive Data Could Be Requested

In addition to platform-specific information, these DOS proposed changes would require immigration visa applicants to disclose all social media identities used over the past five years, including nicknames and maiden names.

Existing rules and proposed updates have already seen legal action. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has expressed deep concern, saying in a statement that tighter vetting rules would have “chilling” effects on freedom of speech and association as protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Not All Applications Will Require Full Disclosure

Existing requirements are estimated to affect more than 710,000 people a year. The new proposal is estimated to cover 14 million people each year, including those who apply for non-immigrant visas.

That means individuals who visit the United States on business or pleasure would be subject to the new requirements, including those residing in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and other countries. Residents of certain locales will be excluded from the rules, including those residing in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

Visitors traveling on diplomatic or official visas will mostly be exempted. It’s wise to contact a knowledgeable immigration lawyer in Daytona Beach to determine whether you and your family could be affected by the new proposals.

Other Questions Could Be Asked

In addition to social media vetting, the DOS has proposed adding other questions to immigrant application forms, such as:  

  • phone numbers and email addressed used for the past five years
  • details of international travel over the past five years
  • whether friends or family members have been involved or implicated in terrorist activities

Under the proposal, applicants would also be required to disclose international travel itineraries for the past five years. A qualified and trusted immigration attorney in Daytona Beach can help you understand your rights and how to answer existing and proposed application questions.

Assistance is Available

Getting a firm grasp on the changing immigration visa application process can be cumbersome, confusing, and downright frustrating. It doesn’t have to be that way. Advice and guidance are available to help you make informed and detailed decisions.

For more than 30 years, we’ve helped countless individuals across Florida and internationally. When you work with us, you get close personal attention. We’ll never rush you or attempt to pressure you into any decision.

In addition, our Spanish-speaking immigration lawyers remove all communication barriers, resulting in a stress-free and straight-forward conversation that covers all your immigration-related questions and concerns. Contact us today to learn more about immigration visa applications and other aspects of the immigration process.

 


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