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As a result of the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the rules regarding social media screening of applicants for immigration petitions and benefits. Immigration officers now have expanded authority to review an applicant’s online presence to determine eligibility for an immigration benefit.

Immigration officers can ask for your user names/handles and passwords for your current and past social media platforms accounts. In addition, there have been instances where consular officers have discovered posts for employment on Craiglist and deny an applicant’s application for violating the terms of their visa. Thus, applicants should consider using the most restrictive privacy settings on their social media platforms and be very careful not to post anything on any platform that you would not want the government to discover. Thus, applicants should consider using the most restrictive privacy settings on their social media platforms. Applicants should also consider editing or deleting social media accounts, posted information, posted photos, posted statements, etc. which can be construed as evidence of the following:

• Engaging in marriage fraud (e.g., if you are petitioning for or being petitioned by your spouse and one of you indicates your relationship status as “single”)
• Lack good moral character (drug use*, infidelity, criminal activity, etc.)
• Working without employment authorization
• Falsely claiming U.S. citizenship
• Terrorist activity or association with a terrorist organization
• Gang affiliation

Also, please consider the following when using social media:
• Never make jokes about committing a crime in the United States, being involved with terrorists, or having an intention to harm the United States.
• Never joke about having deceived the government or any government agency.
• Don’t post anything on social media that contradicts anything in your immigration application.
• Avoid profanity and the use of aggressive or threatening language.
• Be cautious about your complaints. Avoid profanity-ridden insults towards the U.S. government, USCIS, or specific officers.

If an immigration officer deems information posted on your social media as fraud or misrepresentation, a lack of good moral character, or ground of inadmissibility, your petition or application could be denied. Such a finding could also affect your ability to become a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen in the future.

Should you have any questions about how your social media presence may affect your immigration status or applications, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (714) 494-4545.

*Please see our November 15, 2018 blog post about how marijuana use can affect your immigration case

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