Social Media & Visa Processing Guidelines and Tips
In the last year, the Department of State (DOS) started asking for information regarding all the applicant's social media on Forms DS-160 and DS-260. The form, among other things, requests that applicants provide their usernames used over the past five years to a variety of social networking platforms from the last five years, including Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Reddit, Twitter, Weibo, Youtube, and more.
While filling out Forms DS-260 or DS-160 you will find the question:
“Do you wish to provide information about your presence on any other websites or applicants you have used within the last five years to create or share content (photos, videos, status updates, etc.)?”
If the applicant does not wish to share any additional information, he or she should select “No.” However, a negative response to this question automatically produces a negative response to the following question that confirms if you have any “Other Social Media Used”. Therefore, by responding “No” to what appears to be an optional request to share information, visa applicants end up affirmatively asserting that they have not used additional social media platforms. These two questions have different meanings. Because it is unclear the impact of not sharing social media information, we recommend you speak with a lawyer prior to submitting your application within USCIS.
Deactivating a social media account does not protect an applicant from providing the information requested. It may be considered unusual for an applicant from a nation where they use cell phones and computers to have no social media. A consular officer may expect an applicant to disclose social media presence, and the absence of online activity may be a trigger for further investigation.
We recommend our clients be mindful on managing their social media and all disclosures they make to social media information. Political or anti-American speech, although a person's right, should be considered when making plans to travel to the US as it could cause delays in a persons ability to travel to the US.
Here are some tips to avoid further an investigation:
Truthfully answer all questions on Form DS-160 and DS-260, including those concerning social media presence.
We recommend conducting a simple Internet search to determine what information about the applicant (or their name) is readily available online.
If needed, our firm will help you determine what, if any, issues may be explained to an interviewing officer.
Review your social media content to determine if any material may be cause for concern of admissibility issues. For example, is there any suggestion of criminal activities, such as the use of controlled substances, terrorism organization affiliation, health-related issues (heavy consumption of alcohol or marijuana), association with a communist or other anti-democratic organization, child pornography? Consular officers will carefully scrutinize indications of such behaviors on a visa applicant’s social media feed.
It is not clear if an applicant will always be required to disclose their social media information, for now, our firm can discuss all your questions, flagging possible issues and guiding you to avoid any possible mistakes on your application. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any immigration-related questions or concerns, as we are happy to provide free initial consultations.
The Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles is an experienced Los Angeles based U.S. Immigration law firm that has been practicing immigration law since 2013. Our background makes us uniquely well suited to help you with any issue relating to your immigration status.
Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles, APC
411 West 7th St. Ste 310 - Los Angeles, CA 90014