The U.S. Department of State recently updated its work visa forms to now include a social media question on Form DS-160 non-immigrant visa and Form DS-260 immigrant visa applications. The question is: “Do you have a social media presence?” Applicants are expected to provide a list of platforms (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter) and usernames used in the previous five years. Passwords are not to be provided. There will be a long pulldown menu for the platforms, and then a field to enter the information.
What to expect
According to the non-profit NAFSA, which focuses on working with academics, researchers and technology workers, this is the first step, and there will be a future second phase for the question on the DS-160 and DS-260. It will include:
- An optional text-free field that provides identifiers to other platforms within the last five years;
- The applicant will provide previously used email addresses, telephone numbers and details of international travel over the previous five years;
- The applicant will list all prior immigration violations;
- The applicant will specify any family members involved in terrorist activities.
More background information
The Department of State announced this change in March of 2018. We have also seen social media questions involved in other areas of immigration and visa applications. Many organizations have voiced criticism regarding the addition of this question. The main concerns include:
- There is uncertainty regarding the frequency and scope of information collection
- There is uncertainty regarding privacy protection and the purpose of collecting this information
- There is uncertainty regarding the collection of social media information
- There is a concern where vulnerable applicants must have their private information protected
- There is concern regarding visa delays
- There is a need for a visa life cycle vetting initiative
- There is a need for positive language in these forms
Legal guidance useful for visa applications
Those applying for visas or citizenship are advised to work with a knowledgeable immigration law attorney. Recent years have seen many changes in the application process and previous approaches and strategies may no longer work.