The immigration process and immigration itself is one of the oldest events in the history of mankind. The human being has been migrating for thousands of years, and just like the rest of the ancestral practices, it has evolved along with the new customs, and this includes social networks.
Although tools such as the Internet and social networks have allowed immigrants to communicate with their families despite the distance, it can also be a double-edged sword, because of how we use the networks can affect our immigration process in the United States.
Today, there are more than 3 billion people who use social networks daily for information and communication.
In the United States, 7 out of every 10 people use a social network, with Facebook being the most used platform with more than 2.9 billion users worldwide.
Does USCIS Review Applicants’ Social Networks?
No one knows exactly what percentage of cases the USCIS immigration agency will review the social networks of immigrant applicants, but it is a fact that they may do so with all types of cases.
We should keep this in mind and even dare to imagine that they will do so 100 percent of the time.
Let’s say, for example, a person is applying for permanent residency based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen. The applicant’s social networks have to prove that they are with that person, or that they married that person through photos or videos.
We have also encountered situations where we have talked to people who have had friendships or contact with people who are involved in gang sutff.
If this person is friends with a person on Facebook, and this profile includes photos with drugs or weapons, we at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law Firm do not believe that this would be viewed as positive or desirable in any way.
It would be a good idea not to network with a friend who has posted things like this on their social networks.
All immigrants who are living in the United States (not including the immigration part of the caseload) are going to have to look for jobs, find or interact with other people within the country, and everyone will be able to review the relationships or friendships that person has in their social media.
Therefore, apart from an immigration case, it is not a good idea to have such contacts in your networks. It would be a good idea not only to delete those people but also to directly close that account where you have been related in any way with those people.
Such persons may be investigated not only by the immigration agency but also by the police, for example.
We reiterate that no one in the United States and less in an immigration process, should have social networks connected to people involved in gangs who have posted photos of illegal activities on their social networks.
What Happens If I Say I Don’t Have Social Networks?
No one should tell lies in an interview with immigration under any circumstances, because they are federal agencies, they have the access they require to the FBI databases and Department of Homeland Security databases, so they can investigate many things that we don’t even know or know about.
No one should say they don’t have social networks when they do. What would be a good idea to do is to review all your photos and make sure that the information that is public in your account, is the same that is included in your forms, data, trips, jobs, and places where you have lived.
All the information you provide to USCIS in your application must be the same as what is posted on your social networks.
With this, we do not want to tell people that they shouldn’t have social networks or that they shouldn’t put personal information on their networks, but they do have to think about the effect and impact that their information will have, especially, when they have the idea of starting an immigration case or are already in an immigration process.
Regardless of any immigration case, whether a Consular Process is underway or not, a DACA case, or an application for permanent residency or citizenship, you must fill out a form and send that form to the immigration agency.
Next, you are about to share information about your jobs, your contacts or incidents with law enforcement, your travels, exits, and entries into the United States, family details, date of marriage, date of divorce if any, and any address of where you lived and where you live at present.
All these details that you provide to carry out your immigration process, are things that they can review on their social networks.
If, for example, you are entering the United States and they suspect fraud for some reason, perhaps because you have not yet purchased a return ticket, or you plan to stay almost six months (almost the entire time allowed in your country), they may suspect fraud. In these circumstances, officers will normally have more questions about your plans within the United States.
Border Patrol officers are likely to question you about how you will support yourself during your time in the U.S. without a job or livelihood, for example.
Another example is where people are applying for permanent residency by marriage. It must be proven that this is a bona fide marriage.
The most common in this type of case is that we give evidence about this life together, such as receipts, invoices, subscriptions, rent contracts, and shared bank accounts.
In our cases, when someone doesn’t carry a lot of official documentation, it is because perhaps that couple recently got married, and we can include as evidence their social networks, where moments about the engagement or marriage can be appreciated.
It’s very important and fundamental in any situation of your immigration process, to send enough evidence for each type of immigration case, to avoid future problems, to make everything look genuine, and not to raise suspicions where there are none.
Is USCIS Going To Ask Me For My Passwords & Users?
It’s a reality that this is done at the border when someone is trying to cross. Border Patrol officers can take your phone and ask you for the necessary information to break into your computer and obtain the information contained within it.
This is something they especially did a lot in the last administration when we had Donald Trump. Today they do it less frequently, but it is still likely to happen to someone.
It is important to mention that this is the same for everyone, for permanent residents or for people who are applying for Visas.
We have never heard of a case in which an officer within the United States has been caught asking for this type of private information other than in situations related to criminal cases because that is already something that the police do as part of their investigations.
However, in immigration cases where a person is applying for an immigration benefit, such as a Work Permit, permanent residency, or citizenship, they will not be asked for their passwords.
USCIS & Private Messages
Especially for immigrants who enter or want to enter the United States on Tourist Visas, not only will Border Patrol officers check their Facebook or Instagram accounts, but they will also check their private iMessage or WhatsApp messages.
We have many examples of people who were caught or deported at the border for sending messages discussing a job or perhaps even attending a concert.
The immigration agency has a lot of power over immigrants as they cross the U.S. border.
They can cancel the Visa and even order a type of deportation, and this can hurt the person and their eligibility to come to the United States in the future.
People who are currently planning to cross the border should think before making any decision about whether it’s a good idea to delete their social network profiles or private messages.
Something you should keep in mind is that only deleting the photos or posts in your accounts, will not fix the situation, because there may be a record of that information forever, for example, in every email, every photo that when uploaded to the internet is online, and is something that any person or institution can find in the future.
The best option in this type of situation would be to consult with Lincoln-Goldfinch Law Firm, to discuss your specific case, as to what the post was, what the photo was of that you suspect may prove to be so problematic to your case, and thus give us and it allows you to plan and know if it would still be a good idea to apply for the benefit of an immigration process, because just deleting a photo is not going to fix the situation.