By Jeremy B. Love, Immigration Attorney
June 11, 2019
 
As we recently posted, the National Visa Center is expanding its use of monitoring visa applicants’ social media. Previously, pilot programs existed for monitoring the social media of applicants for asylum and refugee status.
Under the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” policy, visa applicants are also now required to list their social media handles. The policy is likely to be expanded going forward. Despite the Department of Homeland Security’s own admission that monitoring social media is not particularly helpful, it is important to know how this policy could affect your immigration case.
 
Why do immigration officials want my social media handles?
Immigration officials have always advocated for more tools in making decisions on immigration applications. They want to be able to check for potential discrepancies with the applications and information submitted by the applicant.
 
What are they looking for?
They are looking at information including: potential security risks, conflicting relationship information, and fraudulent behavior. The social media information is then stored in the applicant’s file.
 
Can immigration officials access my account?
No, passwords are not given to immigration officials, and they cannot hack into your account.
 
So what can I do to assure that my social media will not negatively affect my immigration case?
 
Here are my recommendations for handling your social media accounts under this administration:
1. Review privacy settings to limit who can see your information and tagged posts and photos.
2. Limit the audience of your posts.
3. Obviously, do not post about any illegal activities.
4. Turn off the location on your posts.
5. Check out resources like www.scrubber.social that can help you clean up your social media.