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New immigration rule calls for social media information

With the rise of portable technology and affordable internet, social media has become an everyday part of many people’s lives. But is social media usage an accurate reflection of who the average person in New York is? The U.S. Department of State apparently thinks so, which is why immigration applications will now ask for social media information.

The Department of State proposed screening applicants’ social media accounts in March 2018. According to the DOS, looking at the content of social media accounts will improve the screening process for visas while facilitating legitimate travel. Looking through an applicant’s social media is not exactly a new practice, though. Before the changes, the DOS identified approximately 65,000 applicants every year that required enhanced screening through old emails and social media.

The new rule would require around 15 million people to turn over their social media usernames, old phone numbers and email addresses. This includes 710,000 immigrant visa applications as well as 14 million nonimmigrant visa applications. Even student and business travellers would have to give up this information during the application process. It is not clear what kind of information officials might be looking for when screening social media.

Not everyone treats social media seriously, and most people in New York might not even think twice before sharing something with their friends. That kind of casual social media use could be worrying for those who are ready to apply for a visa. Options for addressing these concerns could possibly be made more clear for those who choose to seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney.